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  • Destiny Yarbro

The 3 Purposes Guiding My ASL Curriculum

People standing in a circle each putting their hands in the center of the circle with the "I Love You" hand sign.

My milieu is minority language teaching. For today’s discussion, I will focus specifically on the three purposes leading my curriculum in teaching American Sign Language (ASL).

Purpose 1: Communication

  • Can my students get to know a Deaf person in ASL?

  • Will what we learn today help my students be able to have meaningful, two-way conversations?

Purpose 2: Connection

  • Do my students know ASL well enough to relate, understand, and create empathetic relationships with their Deaf peers?

Purpose 3: Social Change

  • Do my students see what they learn as a tool in creating and supporting social change?

  • Do they desire to become a hearing advocate and support Deaf rights?

Of Shiro’s four curriculum ideologies, the learner-centered ideology best matches how I approach teaching American Sign Language and (I hope) best meet the needs of these ASL learners (2013). Rather than a scholar academic ideology approach where the curriculum is “formed out of established disciplines,” my goal is for students to identify what they need to know to communicate and connect in their spheres of influence (Boushon, 2017). For example, one student may study phrases and vocabulary they need to work with their co-worker at a car mechanic shop while another student studies to communicate with their Deaf boss at an office supply store.

However, while my approach may seem to be learner-centered, the final purpose I mention above, “social change” would perhaps be best met by a social reconstruction approach. Afterall, Shiro (2013) makes clear that “Social Reconstructionists are conscious of the problems of our society and the injustices done to its members, such as those originating from racial, gender, social, and economic inequalities” (p. 6). However, rather than either a learner-centered or social reconstruction approach, I see a community-centered approach best matching both the needs of my learners and the bigger picture behind my curriculum. For example, one student may explore what phrases and vocabulary they should know for their community service at the local animal shelter while another learns what is necessary to volunteer at a Deaf community center. The goal is to learn what is needed to take part in greater social change and do good in their community.


Boushon, A. (2017, April 10). Curriculum Ideologies [Video File].

Schiro, M. S. (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns (2nd ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.


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