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ix PREFACE (A “WARNING”) Ideas and definitions of deafness are complicated and deeply contested, including the constraints over what ought to be socially constructed as normal, especially for a child. Social institutions such as schools play powerful and exacting roles in the creation and maintenance of social constructions such as language and culture for deaf children. Schools also provide deaf children with a unique opportunity to obtain a valuable education; however, educational outcomes for deaf children are not on par with hearing children. Issues are further complicated because efforts to define appropriate academic, linguistic, and cultural pedagogy for deaf children in deaf schools are contested by divergent ideologies of spoken English and sign language. There is a need to critically examine the larger issue of deafness within different types of deaf education to uncover emergent ideologies, paradigms, identity formations, languages, cultures, and everyday social constructions. Identifying positive constructions of deafness involves considering larger critical justice issues related to deafness through critical, yet collaborative , inquiries that have important implications for influencing the types of knowledge and identities that deaf students develop. These considerations may also lead to a greater understanding of humankind and our connections to the world. This book explores these inquiries. Throughout the development of this book, I have painstakingly reminded myself of the adage that if we do not learn from history, we are destined to repeat it. Walking into any academic library comprising a multitude of literary works that claim to show “evidence” and justifications of certain ideals and principles toward social problems, phenomena , and/or issues is a humbling yet overwhelming experience. Libraries hold a corpus of knowledge that help us to make sense of our social world. As this book makes its contribution toward this corpus, I am mindful of philosopher George M. F. Hegel’s warning that some Frontmatter.indd ix Frontmatter.indd ix 12/6/2012 4:20:12 PM 12/6/2012 4:20:12 PM x PREFACE of the history written in these libraries has permeated society, but not in ways that encourage learning from its principles; thus, society continues to repeat history. I have no intent to (re)write history in a manner that will claim to provide the type of objective, matter-of-fact solutions in this book that will result in what Hegel forewarned. Instead, my inquiries on human history share C. Wright Mills’s (1959) central task to inquire, What does it mean to be a human in today’s society? What does being human mean for deaf people and its history? Where do deaf issues involving language and culture in today’s society stand in the context of human history? What varieties of humans, including deaf people, prevail in today’s society ? What does it mean to prevail in today’s society? What types of social constructions permeate deafness and its identities? I also share Lankshear and McLaren’s inquiry: “Whose interests are being served in social acts of doing research? Where is this process situated ethnically and politically in matters of social justice?” (1993, p. 381). By addressing these questions , this book takes on a complex and daunting task entailing multiple micro and macro levels of analysis. In actuality, this book does not provide answers to these questions because this book is not concerned with “discovering” epistemological foundations or “holistic” forms of objectivity ; rather, this book, using these questions as guiding points, focuses on revealing critical knowledge by means of discourses and “stresses the contingency of the social” to address certain social justice issues (Lankshear & McLaren, 1993, p. 410), including deafness, language, culture, and deaf education. I cannot rectify in this book all of the social injustice issues surrounding deafness; instead, I strive to frame this book in terms of a Bakhtin approach of a dialogic existence through which my writing becomes a voice to be heard within the context of social justice awareness. A dialogic discourse opens ways to better understand the diverse paradigms leading to oppressor/oppressed relationships surrounding deaf education and the importance of language/culture (or languaculture) that will become clearer as this book progresses. The goal of the dialogic approach here is to reveal the interaction of different social values, grasp history more fully, unlock critical knowledge that may have been hidden before, and expose its profound effects not only on sign language, deaf culture, deafness, and deaf education but also on human values, thought, biographies, and histories. Frontmatter.indd x Frontmatter.indd x 12/6/2012 4:20:12...


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