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our present public-school age limits are not a day too long for the development of our present common-school and academic scheme of education. Such being the voice of the people, a discussion at this time and upon this occasion of school privileges accorded to our deaf, as contrasted with our hearing, youth becomes singularly opportune. This subject, if the writer states it from memory correctly, is worded in the form of a question assuming a fact, to wit: “Why should deaf children be allowed from five to ten years less time under instruction than their hearing associates ?"
While the law in this matter, as all know, varies in different sections of our country, custom, if the writer mistakes not, is coming to allow to those charged with the education of the deaf large discretionary or advisory powers in defining the duration of their pupilage as wards of the state. Here in California, as Dr. Wilkinson informs us, the trend of legislation has steadily favored extension of this age limit, and year by year has aimed to make it correspond more closely with that of pupils in our hearing grades.
The same disposition has manifested itself in Ohio, where not very many years ago deaf children were fated virtually, in the majority of cases, to lose twelve years of life's most receptive period, educationally, unschooled at home. And it was a common and, to the thoughtful instructor, a most disheartening sight to see, in a class-room of beginners at that late age, young people approaching or beyond the opposed age line of twenty years present themselves for education. Five years was the time granted at that date in which to compass this momentous task, eked out in special cases by the grudging addition of two years more. Then followed, in 1867, under Dr. Fay, the admission of the deaf to school privileges at the age of ten, twenty remaining the final age limit. Seven years were allotted for the course, with three years more as a bonus in cases of exceptional promise. The year 1873 was signalized for the deaf of Ohio by further time concessions, the school being thrown open to all deaf youths of sound mind between the ages of six and twenty-one, thus approximating closely to the time law and custom obtaining in schools for hearing people. In 1881 the age of admission was set at eight years, a measure reluctantly taken, but necessitated by the overcrowded condition of the Columbus school at that time.
These statistics are quoted to substantiate the statement just made, that more and more latitude is being granted to educators of the deaf as to time limits. The sentiment of the public regarding us and our work may, in brief, be worded thus: “Take your own time, but give us the best results attainable ;" and the question now before us is, not so much the gaining for ourselves, by public consent, of more time for our task, as how to make more of the time that already is accorded to us in advancing this great and growing work. As this is, or ought to be, an “experience meeting" for the interchange less of pedagogic theories than of actual and
approved practices in teaching our common profession, the writer may be permitted to describe, or rather to hint at, certain means to this end, to approve ourselves living agents in quickening and informing the intelligence of our pupils, thus most effectively stimulating their powers of expression, and so bringing them more and more into touch with those about them. The stream cannot rise higher than its source, nor can language outstrip the mental wealth and activity of which it is the exponent. Of course, we cannot expect our charges, as a rule, to be Helen Kellers in mental grasp and retentiveness,.nor can they hope to be blessed, like her, with the individual companionship for an unlimited period of a devoted instructor. Yet the writer speaks from experience in maintaining that special methods and appliances may be made to aid vastly the development in our deaf children of this alertness of apprehension, this “catching on” faculty, that distinguishes the “ quick," perceptively speaking, from the “dead."
First, then, let the personal intelligence of the would be instructor of the deaf be alert and sympathetic. “That which we are," asserts Emerson, that prince of teachers, “we shall teach, voluntarily, involuntarily.” The heavy, unresponsive “logy” teacher - we all have seen and recognize the type — tho versed in all of the 'ologies, chirology included, has no call to teach the deaf. A little leaven, we are assured, leaveneth the lump; but be little or much, leaven it must be; and tho that type of instructor may, under a long-suffering Providence and forbearing schocl boards, achieve a measure of success, it should not be at the expense of pupils already heavily handicapped in their race toward education's goal. In personal sympathy, after all, must we recognize the touchstone of successful teaching of the deaf--a sympathy quick to avail itself of every accredited aid to this end, contemning none; enlisting in this exacting service heart and hand, tongue and thought; a sympathy making itself "eyes to the blind,” ears for the deaf; literally “ feeling with " them the stress of their life-burden, while philanthropically striving to lessen its weight; seeking not private gains; broad and enduring in its nature as life itself. “Unless you expect to make instruction of the deaf your life-work, let it alone !” was the curt and wholesome advice of a veteran in our profession to the writer at the outset of his teaching experience. Again, let instruction be presented in the most attractive and condensed form possible to the deaf; knowledge in nutshells, as it were. In his own teaching the writer has found the use of card abstracts, historical, biographical, geographical, etc., to be a distinct time-saving. Such helps may be procured of educational publishers, or may readily be prepared by the teacher, and handled as teaching experience will quickly suggest. It has been amply proved that in this simple manner the memories of a class may be stored with grouped facts in endless variety, and, as they pass in review, unflagging interes may be maintained in the series thruout the school year.
The importance of having, close at hand, up-to-date maps, school apparatus, and compact reference-books in conducting this education thru the eye need not be emphasized in this company. In this connection may be instanced, however, the marked advantage which, during this history-making period thru which we are passing, the conveniently cased set of wall-charts provided by the state has been to the writer's own class of patriotic young people. Rarely has this case been allowed to remain closed during a daily session by these pupils; while, as their knowledge of localities widened, their interest in tracing the “course of empire" has fully kept pace with it. And the handy two-volume Young Folks' Cyclopedia, that lies within easy reach, has been thumbed like a "hornbook.” Which facts simply demonstrate the desirability of enconoiniz.
. ing to the utmost the time of our youthful knowledge-seekers, by having such aids to information at hand in abridged form, rather than to expect pupils to consult authorities elsewhere; or, most likely, suffer this laudable impulse to verify facts to lapse, rather than tackle the ponderous encyclopædias that lade the shelves of some remote library.
As another means of keeping our young Americans abreast with the times in thought, do we, as a practice, make sufficient use of the morning paper in purveying material for journal-writing, taking it for granted that a daily class exercise of such sort is, as it should be, kept up? The tendency, as no doubt we have all observed with our pupils, is to grow introspective in their mental processes of this kind, making themselves and their personal affairs too exclusively the subject of their journalistic essays. Nor are they to be blamed, unless news matter of general interest, discreetly pruned of sensationalism, be provided to their hand, and their thoughts be led outward to note intelligently the march of current events. And this again suggests the query how we may most quickly induce in our pupils and confirm the reading habit upon which their future intellectual growth must so largely depend. It has for years been the writer's custom to keep a running record of the books read by pupils, by pages, the tally being from time to time announced, and summed up at the term's close ; thus promoting emulation, among the members of the class not only, but between successive classes as well.
Systematically arranged wall cabinets in the class-room itself con. tribute wonderfully to the enrichment of those fleeting five hours a day we are privileged to spend among our neophytes. Properly classified and pigeonholed, here under the teacher's eye and hand, may be marshaled a store of material pat to "point a moral or adorn a tale ;” or, mayhap, to suggest a ready solution for that recurrent conundrum of “What next?" which often perplexes the teacher ambitious to improve to its utmost the passing moment. The range of such illustrative collections is wide, and the emprise of it is to find how often, and in what unlooked-for ways, its resources are drawn upon.
A live query box should hold place among the furnishings of every well-equipped class-room for the deaf. To dispose our pupils to ask questions intelligently on the subject-matter before them is, as we all know, one of our hardest tasks. The desire is there, doubtless; otherwise they would not be Yankees; but a hesitation seems to lurk in their midst about putting this desire to know into words. Let this latent inclination of youth be fostered in every way and encouraged to declare itself. If the interrogation point be justly characterized as the “teacher's fishhook," "turn about” here becomes "fair play," and if it be the fate of the unwary preceptor occasionally to get numbered among the caught, all the better for the pupil.
The practice has been found very helpful in teaching colloquial English of taking action words, for example "get,” following up the term thru its Protean changes of application in getting “at," "around,” “into,"
over," " thru," "by,” and “out of” things, even tho our disciples must enter with us the 'gates of slang in “getting there." But is it not into this very free-masonry of speech in "everyday clothes” that we should seek to initiate our candidates if we are ever to make them at home in the vernacular ? This lead has been followed for months in one of our grades, with growing interest, and the class voluntarily petitioned that time be allowed it before term closing to copy the results of its researches for future reference.
The value of the facile crayon, as an auxiliary in teaching the deaf, should not be overlooked. The ability by a few deft strokes to outline to the eye a form illustrating, inartistically it may be, to the pupil the subject before him is one to be coveted and cultivated by every teacher. Yet, if the ready crayon be not at hand, a shape picture in ambient air may flash the idea with equal vividness, and far greater rapidity, aiding the judicious instructor effectively in securing that clear comprehension of a thought that must precede and pilot its expression in words. But we verge upon debatable ground the limbo of gesture land ! Environment, also, to use a hard-worked phrase, the social atmosphere of a wellorganized and equipped school establishment, is undeniably a powerful factor in drawing forth the dormant, or repressed, powers of the young and impressionable. This is acknowledged to be the case with normal youths, whose parents gladly incur the expense and self-denial involved in sending them away to distant boarding schools, for the sake of the educational associations they may offer. But notably is it true with our deaf children, the quickening of whose faculties, under class stimulus, at the very threshold of their school life, is ofttimes little short of marvelous, as every teacher of the deaf can testify. And can parents do less for their deaf than for their hearing offspring in thus putting them in the way of training to the best purpose, under time limitations, their hampered powers ? Especially when the state steps forward and says:
“Come! I make these youths my foster-children ; let them have all the advantages, for the time being, of the well-conducted private school, coveted for their hearing brothers and sisters, free of cost!”
Can an enlightened and generous public do more? or less ?
Yet, why catalog, here and now, educational considerations that should naturally suggest themselves to all thoughtful teachers of the deaf, who, pre-eminently among educators, find themselves confronted by problems and conditions calling for the highest originality in methods, as well as of patience beyond compare ?
Upon this common ground, trained tho we may have been in differing schools, pledged as we are to our cause, we meet, extending, each to other, the “glad hand" of fellowship. "Viae diversae," it may be ; "destinatio una” “ways" converge to one objective point, and the same: the restoration to social kinship of those in danger, thru force of untoward circumstances for which they are not responsible, of drifting apart from their kind; by so arming them against fate that, tho they may not yet “by opposing end” it, they may win from those about them honest praise for well-directed endeavor, and the intelligent and inspiring sympathy that spurs on to high emprise.
He who opened the eyes of the blind and unstopped deaf ears no longer walks among us - the "Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” omnipotent in his sympathies, infinite in his patience. Yet upon us — in all reverence be it said
who so imperfectly, because, alas, humanly, tho humanely, are striving to lighten, if we may not lift, a burden of our common humanity grievous to be borne, doth not his mantle in a measure rest ?
As those, then, struggling to carry forward his work, let us broaden our own sympathies ; let us “ covet earnestly the best gifts” for these deaf, not dumb, even tho voiceless children of our native land; ever ready to adapt our methods to their varying needs, while conscientiously utilizing to the utmost, and seeking to extend, the time that the public spirit of the community accords us.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A RIGHT BEGINNING
BY, MISS HELEN TAYLOR, KINDERGARTNER IN PUBLIC DAY SCHOOLS FOR
THE DEAF, LOS ANGELES, CAL. There is, after all, a far-reaching truth in the old and timeworn expression of " as the twig is bent, the tree is inclined.”
“ When we have in consideration the lives of so many hundreds of children deprived of hearing who are trying to cope with this great handicap,