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The Myth of the Normal Curve

The Myth of the Normal Curve (Hardback)

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Synopsis

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.

Curt Dudley-Marling was a special education teacher for seven years and also taught third grade. He is currently a professor in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College where he teaches courses on language and literacy. His scholarly interests include the social construction of school failure, classroom discourse, and disability studies. Alex Gurn is a Ph.D. candidate in curriculum and instruction at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College. His professional work experiences include work as a community-based educator, as a language teacher with high school and adult learners, and as an out-of-school time specialist for the Massachusetts Department of Education. His other research interests span the sociology of education, cultural studies, youth literacy practices in and out of educational institutions, and qualitative research methodologies.

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