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The Myth of the Normal Curve


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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List of Contributors 257


CONTRIBUTORS Eileen Ball, Curry College, Boston, Massachusetts Lilia I. Bartolomé, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Boston, Massachusetts Gerald Campano, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana Felicity A. Crawford, Wheelock College, Boston, Massachusetts Brent Davis, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia Curt Dudley-Marling, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts Beth Ferri, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York Susan Gabel, National-Louis University, Skokie, Illinois Deborah Gallagher, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa Steven A. Gelb, University of San Diego, San Diego, California Michael Gill, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut Alex Gurn, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts Beth Harry, University of Miami, Miami, Florida Bernadette Macartney, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand Donaldo Macedo, University of Massachusetts-Boston, Boston, Massachusetts Michael Mancini, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri Rebecca Rogers, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri Rob Simon, University of Toronto/Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, Ontario Teresa Sordé Martí, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain Dennis Sumara, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia Jan Valle, City College of New York, New York, New York Arlette Ingram Willis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

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