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The hope and burden of early intervention: Parents' educational planning for their deaf children in post-1960s Australia

Aaron Payne (Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Helen Proctor (Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Ilektra Spandagou (Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

History of Education Review

ISSN: 0819-8691

Article publication date: 13 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This article examines the educational decision-making of hearing parents for their deaf children born during a period (1970–1990s) before the introduction of new-born hearing screening in New South Wales, where the study was conducted, and prior to the now near-universal adoption of cochlear implants in Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

We present findings from an oral history study in which parents were invited to recall how they planned for the education of their deaf children.

Findings

We propose that these oral histories shed light on how the concept, early intervention – a child development principle that became axiomatic from about the 1960s – significantly shaped the conduct of parents of deaf children, constituting both hope and burden, and intensifying a focus on early decision-making. They also illustrate ways in which parenting was shaped by two key structural shifts, one, being the increasing enrolment of deaf children in mainstream rather than separate classrooms and the other being the transformation of deafness itself by developments in hearing assistance technology.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to a sociological/historical literature of “parenting for education” that almost entirely lacks deaf perspectives and a specialist literature of parental decision-making for deaf children that is almost entirely focussed on the post cochlear implant generation. The paper is distinctive in its treatment of the concept of “early intervention” as a historical phenomenon rather than a “common sense” truth, and proposes that parents of deaf children were at the leading edge of late-20th and early-21st century parenting intensification.

Keywords

Citation

Payne, A., Proctor, H. and Spandagou, I. (2022), "The hope and burden of early intervention: Parents' educational planning for their deaf children in post-1960s Australia", History of Education Review, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/HER-05-2022-0016

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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