The Deaf Child at School
The educational system and the policies and practices of teachers and administrators who represent it impact children's social development and acculturation as well as their acquisition of traditional academic skills. For most children, school also provides ongoing contact with peers and thus is another important source of socialization, influencing their personal as well as academic images of themselves. In the curricula presented and the kinds of social opportunities they present, schools simultaneously influence and reflect the attitudes and expectations of the culture in general.
For many deaf and hard of hearing children, school can have even more impact than for hearing children. When lack of a shared language system interferes with communication between a child and other family members, interactions with peers and teachers at school provide an especially potent context for social and personal development. Because most deaf children are born into families of hearing persons, school is frequently a primary avenue for acquiring information about being deaf, for making contact with other deaf people, and increasingly for the development of deaf children's understanding of themselves as a part of a vibrant and identifiable cultural group.
The chapters in this section address three elements of the school environment: placement in separate or mainstreamed schools, the curriculum or the content taught in the schools, and the characteristics of deaf students as learners. The first two chapters in this section discuss effects of various school placements from rather different perspectives. Experiences in special or separate schools are compared with those in local, mainstreamed classrooms where there is much opportunity for interaction between deaf and hearing students. Stinson and Foster provide descriptions of models of educational service delivery predominant in education of deaf children in the United States. They conclude that main-