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tion. With the feeble-minded this plan was found to be inexpedient, for reasons which will be stated later.
A very recent movement, started by the instructors of the deaf, is the affiliation of the educators of the defective classes with those of the national education association. It is being more and more recognized that the line between a defective and normal child cannot be drawn hard and fast, and that many a child who appears dull and stupid in school is in some measure defective. Hence, these special schools afford fields of most helpful suggestion to teachers of ordinary children. All persons intending to make teaching a vocation should become acquainted with these schools and their methods.
It is interesting to note that systematic work for the deaf and dumb, the blind, and the feeble-minded began in France, and that to France America sent its early teachers to study methods and ascertain results.
About the middle of the last century three schools for the deaf and dumb were opened in Europe, one in France, one in Germany, and one in Scotland. Though they sprang up at about the same time they were yet wholly independent in origin. In Paris the Abbé de l'Epée having observed two deaf-mute sisters conversing by means of gestures, seized upon the idea that in gesture language lay the secret of instructing the deaf and dumb. He therefore elaborated a system of gesture signs and made it the medium of instruction in the school which he started. Heinicke in Dresden and Braidwood in Edinburg simply adopted articulate speech as the language of man and taught their pupils through it, requiring them to speak and read the lips of others. Thus arose the two important methods of deafmute instruction.
Reports of the successes, chiefly in the British school, having reached America, several parents of deaf-mutes sent their children to Scotland to be educated. These deaf
children returned no longer as mutes; they were able to converse readily by speaking and lip reading. One of these parents was so delighted with his boy's schooling that he published a book in London and wrote articles for the New England periodicals, with the intention of arousing interest in the new work. This man also took steps to ascertain the number of deaf-mutes in Massachusetts. Another man in Virginia, some of whose relatives had attended Braidwood's school, even opened a little school for deaf and dumb pupils in his state, employing as its teacher one of the Braidwood family, who had come to America for the purpose of continuing in the profession of his family here. This was in 1812. The school was the first of its kind started in America. However, it was soon given up, as was a similar effort in New York, where a clergyman undertook to instruct several deaf children whom he found in an almshouse.
Though the events above touched upon seemed to result in little, they yet had great effect in directing intelligent attention to this field of work. They constitute its preliminary stages.
It happened in Hartford, Conn., that there was a physician, one of whose little daughters had become deaf. Why could not this child be educated as well as her hearing sisters ? With this thought he spent some eight years in agitating the question of starting a school for deaf children. In 1815 money enough was raised in a single day to defray the expenses of sending a teacher abroad to study methods. A young graduate of Yale college and of a theological seminary was chosen as the teacher to go. This was Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, who was destined to become the founder of deaf-mute instruction in America.
Of course he went to Great Britain. He proposed to study the only method that Americans knew about. But the doors of the British schools were closed to him. He found the science and art of teaching the deaf regarded as a business monopoly, whereas he had expected to find it conducted from his own motive of philanthropy. After
wandering about there for nine months he gave up hope of acquiring the Braidwood method and accepted an invitation to study methods at the Paris school. At this school he spent the three remaining months of the year, a time far too short in which to acquire the special language of gesture signs. Hence, he induced a deaf-mute, who was teaching in the school, to accompany him to America. This man was the brilliant and accomplished Laurent Clerk, who became an engine of power for establishing schools for deaf-mutes in our country. Thus was the French method or the signlanguage method brought to America. It was improved and further systematized by our early teachers and in this form was the basis of instruction in all our schools for half a century.
During the absence of Dr. Gallaudet, influential men of Hartford had secured from the state legislature the incorporation of the Connecticut asylum for the education and instruction of deaf and dumb persons. Upon his return he and Mr. Clerk traveled for eight months among prominent cities in behalf of the cause of the deaf. The exhibition of Laurent Clerk alone helped the cause as nothing else could have done. On April 15, 1817, school work began at Hartford with seven pupils. During the year 33 pupils came. This was the first permanent school in the country. While in other countries similar schools had no reliable basis of support, the founders of our schools immediately established theirs on a permanent basis. Private aid was necessary at first, but no sooner had the feasibility of the work been shown than public moneys were granted.
In this year the Connecticut asylum changed its name to the American asylum at Hartford for the education and instruction of the deaf and dumb; for it was then supposed that one school could accommodate for many years all the pupils of the country who would attend school. But interest in the schooling of deaf-mutes had been aroused in other places. In 1818 a school was opened in New York under a teacher from Hartford; and in Philadelphia, where Dr. Gal
laudet and Mr. Clerk had gone to obtain aid for the Hartford school, an humble storekeeper by the name of Seixas began to teach, in 1819, a little class of deaf pupils, and he was so successful that an institution was organized in 1820 with Seixas as first teacher and principal. In a very few months he was succeeded by a permanent principal from Hartford. Back in 1819 Massachusetts had provided an appropriation for the education of 20 indigent pupils at Hartford, and in 1825 New Hampshire and Vermont adopted the same policy. “Other states soon followed this good example. Thus, through the efforts of the founders of this [the Hartford] school, the humane, just and wise policy of educating deaf-mutes at the public expense was firmly established in this country, and has been adopted by almost every state in the union. In some of the western states means for the education of deaf
mutes are secured by constitutional provision. This has put the schools for deaf-mutes in the United States on a better basis, financially, than those in any other part of the world.":
Only two years after the founding of the Pennsylvania school, Kentucky followed with its institution, being the first to be supported by a state. The act establishing it limited the pupils at any one time to 25, and their term of instruction to three years. In fact limits of this kind are usually prescribed in all the early institutions. (The Illinois school now has 612 pupils, and the New York schools allow a term of 17 years.) The first principal of the Kentucky school went to Hartford for a year to study methods. Ohio and Virginia soon followed in the good work. Both received their first superintendents from Hartford. Thereafter institutions sprang up rapidly in the south and west, taking their early superintendents or teachers either from the parent school at Hartford or from one or another of the older schools.
In 1857 there was incorporated by the national congress the Columbia institution at Washington, D.C., which requires
· Histories American schools for the Deaf.- American asylum, 1: 13.
special mention. Though originally intended as a school where the deaf children of government beneficiaries could be educated, circumstances of which not the least influential was the energy of its principal, Dr. Edward M. Gallaudet, son of the pioneer, soon brought about a change enabling the institution to confer collegiate degrees. The institution was then divided into two departments, the advanced department taking the name of the National deaf-mute college. Thus, in 1864, America had taken a step “unprecedented in the history of deaf-mute instruction.”
Most of the deaf and dumb are either born deaf or became so before acquiring language. They are dumb because they are deaf, and without special instruction can never know any but a gestural language. The pioneer educators of the deaf in this country were all“ broad-minded men of liberal education,” and they set a high standard at the outset for the work. A language of signs they saw was the key to the instruction of their pupils, who, indeed, were allowed so few years of schooling, that no time was to be lost in laboring over the extraordinary difficulties of teaching them speech. Moreover, these teachers saw with great satisfaction the development of their pupils through the language of signs.
This language is ideographic — “being readily expressive of ideas and emotions,” rather than of phraseology. Put into words their order is entirely different from the natural order, thus, “Let it be supposed that a girl has been seen by a deaf-mute child to drop a cup of milk which she was carrying home. He would relate the incident in the following order of sign words: Saw-I-girl-walk-cup-milk-carry-homedrop.". The late superintendent of the Illinois institution, Dr. Gillett, writes: “When reduced to a system they [signs] form a convenient means of conveying to one mind the ideas conceived by another, though not clothed in the language in which a cultured mind expresses them. One addressed in the sign language receives the idea and translates it into
Encyclop. Brit. (9th ed.) Am, reprint- Art. Deaf and dumb.