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EDITORIAL Cultural Pluralism, Cultural Particularism, and Deafness The trend toward providing more balance in American elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education has been gaining momentum in recent years and is entering a phase of conflict and uncertainty. Some universities are expanding "Great Books" curricula past what may be viewed as essentially restricted to a male, Caucasian, European perspective. Other universities have moved or are moving toward an "Afrocentric," as opposed to "Eurocentric ," emphasis. Most universities, reflecting the diversity of our society, are struggling to provide options to their students. Public schools have also begun to change, and some large cities are introducing Afrocentric emphases into the overall school curriculum. Such change, of course, cannot occur without controversy . For example, there has been substantial disagreement concerning ancient Egypt, an African civilization strategically situated near the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Was it at the core of a black African civilization, a white African civilization, or a mixed African civilization? Or did its racial composition vary during different dynasties and periods of time over thousands of years? Within the context of developing more comprehensive and more inclusive curricula, a distinction must be made between the concepts of cultural pluralism and cultural particularism. In brief, most educators support the position that the educational focus needs to be broadened, because traditionally, American public education has been dominated by one particular orientation—White, Anglo-Saxon, Male, and Protestant—which makes up less than 15%, at most, of our population. The question is whether this particular example of cultural particularism will be replaced with a variety of particularistic curricula, depending on the ethnic composition of the community, or whether we will develop truly pluralistic educational systems that accommodate our society's increasing diversity. Because the large majority of deaf children now attend public schools and are influenced to varying degrees by local and state educational practices, resolution of the pluralism/particularism issue will have several implications for us in regard to both general and special curricula. For example, in research conducted by the Center for Studies in Education and Human Development at Gallaudet University over the past decade, we have found that in every large city program we have worked with except one, the majority of deaf students are "minority" children. If the programs in these cities move toward Afrocentric or Latinocentric orientations, the programs for deaf students will be expected to follow suit. Given the limited knowledge in our field about minority concerns, we may be ill prepared at present to respond to such a move. Another possible development might be changes in some educational programs for deaf children. This might involve curricula or even teaching methods. For example, if the majority of children at the Kendall Demonstration School for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., are black, should instruction be in Black American Sign Language (BASL) rather than in standard ASL, which represents a white dialect? Finally, there are implications for the placement of deaf studies in the curriculum. We are building a core of knowledge and stores of material relating to the cultural, social, and linguistic characteristics of deaf Americans. In programs for deaf children, we will have the opportunity to incorporate this material into truly pluralistic educational systems for deaf students in such a way as to provide an appreciation and understanding of the contributions of deaf individuals and their place in American society. With sufficient initiative and creativity, we should also be able to add educational units on deafness to the general multicultural curriculum, which would provide much needed information on deafness to the complete school age population. Donald F. Moores Editor Vol. 135, No. 5 AAD 341 ...


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