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The Myth of the Normal Curve

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Edited By Curt Dudley-Marling and Alex Gurn

It is generally taken for granted that human behavior distributes along the lines of a bell-shaped, normal curve. This idea underpins much educational theory, research, and practice. There is, however, a considerable body of research demonstrating that the normal curve grossly misrepresents the human experience. Yet the acceptance of the normal curve continues to be used to pathologize children and adults with disabilities by positioning them as abnormal. Collectively, the contributors to this volume critique the ideology of the normal curve. Some explicitly challenge the assumptions that underpin the normal curve. Others indirectly critique notions of normality by examining the impact of normal curve thinking on educational policies and practices. Many contributors go beyond critiquing the normal curve to propose alternative ways to imagine human differences. All contributors agree that the hegemony of the normal curve has had a devastating effect on those presumed to live on the boundaries of normal.

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CONTENTS

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9 Miner’s Canaries and Boiling Frogs: Fiction and Facts about Normalcy in Educational and Reading Assessment . . . . 123 Arlette Ingram Willis 10 A Dialogue We’ve Yet to Have: Race and Disability Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139 Beth Ferri 11 Labeling and Treating Linguistic Minority Students with Disabilities as Deficient and Outside the Normal Curve: A Pedagogy of Exclusion. . . . . . . . . . 151 Felicity A. Crawford & Lilia I. Bartolomé 12 Sex Education and Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities: Crisis Response, Sexual Diversity, and Pleasure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 Michael Gill 13 The Sirens of Normative Mythology: Mother Narratives of Engagement and Resistance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Jan Valle & Susan Gabel 14 Living on the Edge of the Normal Curve: “It’s Like a Smack in the Head”. . . . . 205 Bernadette Macartney 15 Practitioner Research as Resistance to the “Normal Curve” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221 Gerald Campano & Rob Simon 16 Conclusion: Re/visioning the Ideological Imagination in (Special) Education . . . 241 Alex Gurn List of Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 259 viii Contents

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