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Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School

Not an Easy Experience for Some

User Rating 4 Star Rating (1 Review)

By Anne McIntosh, Ph.D.

Updated May 04, 2009

Cover of Alone in the Mainstream

Cover of Alone in the Mainstream

Photo Courtesy of PriceGrabber
Published mid-year in 2004 by Gallaudet University Press, Gina Oliva, Ph.D., a professor of physical education and recreation at Gallaudet University, describes the pros and cons of mainstreamed education from the viewpoint of mainstreamed students years after they have graduated. Throughout the book, Oliva intertwines her personal stories of these good and bad experiences along with the scientific findings from the other mainstreamed students whom she examined.

What's In the Book?

Oliva lets the adults tell their stories at length so readers are able to get a more than just a taste of mainstreamed education from the perspective of affected students. Oliva in no way, shape, or form makes any comparisons between mainstreamed education and the residential schools for the deaf. Instead, she lets her research subjects tell their experiences and she dutifully records the patterns and trends she heard over and over from the subjects. She lets them talk about how their parents influenced the educational process. She lets the students talk about the social isolation.

The Price of Mainstreaming

Oliva examines an important question concerning education options and details consequences that are often missed in other educational studies. Most of the students in the Solitary Mainstreamed Project (a survey done of deaf and hard of hearing students who had attended public schools) admitted they had an excellent education and were thankful for it. Yet, many said the higher quality of education came at a cost -- lack of socialization. Oliva further explores the deprivation of socialization to get a clearer understanding of the costs involved.

Mainstreaming Today

Mainstreamed programs around the country continue to flourish today. Teachers, audiologists, speech pathologists, and educators in the mainstreamed classrooms are making all kinds of measurable strides in speech and language development, reading comprehension scores, and keeping students on grade-level. Professionals working with mainstreamed programs would benefit by reading this book of collected memories to determine how to keep all the positive consequences of the mainstream experience intact while addressing the isolating experience that so many mainstreamed students speak of and experience.


Mainstreamed adults were usually "alone" in their school and did not have others who shared their stories. Describing educational experiences to family members, colleagues, or spouses either do not occur or perhaps, fall on ears that cannot fathom the experience of education in isolation. Oliva's research succinctly describes mainstream children's isolation from peers, support from their parents impacting education, and their self-awareness of who they are and what they are capable of today because of mainstreamed education.
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