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IN order to form a just estimate of the influence exerted by Dr. Thomas Gallaudet on deaf-mute education in America, and of the value of his opinions, due account must be taken of several circumstances connected with his early life, which are well-known to his friends, but which are not always given the weight they deserve.
In two of the most intimate relations of human life he was associated with deaf-mutes. Both his mother and his wife were born without hearing, and neither ever learned to speak.
Gallaudet's mother lived until he was fifty-five years of age, and his wife survives him, after having spent fifty-seven years of married life with her husband. Of what value these close intimacies were in solving the problems of deaf-mute education will be made clear later on.
From that time to the last months of his life he was in close contact with the deaf, as a teacher, as a bible class leader, as a preacher, as Writing a tribute for a memorial service spiritual guide and comforter, as a Director in several large schools, as a helpful friend to many in distress, or needing aid to make their way in the struggle for self-support.
And when from sickness or other misfortune a few of them were worsted in this struggle, they would ask of Dr. Gallaudet that shelter and solace in their old age which his beneficent provision, through the aid of his benevolent friends, has secured for them. Gallaudet's experiences with the deaf were not limited to his own country.
He made ten voyages to Europe; and while these were in part excursions for rest and recreation, there was always something for him to do for the deaf. He attended several Conventions of teachers abroad, and many such gatherings of the deaf themselves, in which he had opportunity of judging as to the results of the various methods of instruction in use in foreign lands.
In his own country a summer never passed that did not find him in some gathering of teachers or of the deaf, in which he came into communication with numbers of deaf people.
In the early days of deaf-mute education two methods, quite different in their character, were made use of. The basis of one was oral speech; that of the other the language of gesture and dactylology. Under the first, the attempt was made to teach all deaf children to speak, and to understand the vocal utterance of others by observing the movement of the lips.
Those who taught by this method, endeavored to give their pupils an education equivalent to that afforded in elementary schools. Many of the promoters of the oral method undertook to keep their pupils from the language of signs and finger spelling, and few made any use in the class-room of these most natural means of communication with the deaf.
Under the second method, no attempt was made to teach speech or lip-reading. Finger spelling was resorted to as an exact and convenient means of familiarizing the deaf child with words and their combinations in verbal language.
Upon this basis, quite as full and satisfactory elementary education was built up as was attained under the oral method. For fully a century the two methods just described were pursued with no attempt at combination, the former being often called the German Method and the latter the French, because of their having been invented and practised in Germany and France respectively.
During the first half-century of deaf-mute education in this country, the method pursued was the Manual, derived from the great school in Paris in And it may be said, in passing, that under this method the deaf children of the United States were given a school training, which transformed them from helpless, almost hopeless beings, into happy, self-reliant, self-supporting members of society.
Intwo schools for the deaf, modeled after those of Germany, were established in this country. The reports of these investigators and the results shown in the two schools just alluded to, led the authorities of the other schools in the country to recommend that all deaf children should have an opportunity to learn to speak.
They were not convinced, however, that it would be for the interests of these children to adopt the German or Oral Method to the exclusion of the other.
And so it came about that a combination was soon effected in the larger schools of the country which has become general, and which is now recognized in educational circles throughout the world as the Combined System.
The two oral schools established in are still conducted as such; and a few others have come into being on the same basis. But none of the older institutions, while all have introduced speech-teaching to a greater or less extent, have closed their doors against manual methods.
Several schools organized on the Pure Oral basis, satisfied that the best results could not be attained under any single method, have become Combined System schools.
In the somewhat prolonged controversy, which has been maintained in this country, Dr. Thomas Gallaudet has been always a supporter of the Combined System. There were two prominent reasons why Dr. Gallaudet opposed the exclusive use of the Oral Method in the education of the deaf.
First, because his intercourse with those taught in this way satisfied him that great numbers did not succeed in acquiring a facility in speech that was at all commensurate with the amount of time and labor expended thereon.
His observations had made it clear that many deaf children of average mental ability, and some with more than this, were not able to become successful speakers and lip-readers. The best speech these could acquire was so imperfect, and often so disagreeable to those who heard it, and consequently so hard to understand as to cause those who used it to be shunned by others.
This treatment wounded and discouraged these unsuccessful deaf speakers to such an extent that in many cases they gave up trying to speak and resorted to writing. Gallaudet's opinion was that in all such cases it would have been better if the time given to speech teaching had been devoted, under the Manual Method, to useful matters where success was possible.
His second reason for opposing the exclusive use of the Oral Method was because under it the language of signs is discredited and little used.Jul 17, · Reader Approved How to Write a Eulogy For a Father. Four Parts: Prewriting Your Eulogy Writing the Eulogy Completing and Delivering the Eulogy Sample Eulogy Community Q&A Writing a eulogy for your father can be a heartbreaking experience.
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