Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/95

This page has been validated.
85
THE HORACE MANN SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF.

faithless days. It was opened under the name of "Boston School for Deaf Mutes," in November, 1869, with twenty-five pupils. Two removals have been made since that time, but the eighty members comprising the school are now pleasantly located in the present building, which contains eight class-rooms, a reception-room, and play-room.

The name of the school was changed in 1877, because the pupils who were learning to speak objected to being called "mutes"; a prejudice which the city very wisely considered. As early as 1843 Mr. Horace Mann, then Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, described in one of his reports the German method of teaching articulation, and urged its adoption here. It was a suggestion which, as Dr. Howe said, "took twenty years to bear fruit," but it was gracefully remembered in changing the name of the school which now teaches that method with marked success. It is both a city and a State institution, and in that way has some advantages over an ordinary public school; a longer recess, for example, and but one session instead of two.

And in this cheerful place, in an atmosphere of encouragement and affection, the children gladly stay during five hours of the day; while the teachers, who are enthusiasts in their work, patiently try to fit them to take their places more equally in the struggle of life.

The work is very slow. When we remember that most of these pupils have never heard a sound, and do not know what it is, that they have no communication with the world except by pantomime, and then remember that the end aimed at is to make them speak the English language, so that any one can understand them, and that they must learn to read from the movements of his lips whatever a hearing person chooses to say to them, the tremendous toil will be faintly realized.

From the time in the last century when the first government institutions for the deaf and dumb were founded simultaneously in Germany and France, the methods of instruction have been different in those usually antagonistic countries.

The Abbé de l'Epée contented himself with the sign-language, and his idea is still the ruling one in the French school, for its defenders hold that the thinking and reasoning qualities are better brought out with a language which, when once learned with comparative ease, allows the mind free play, than with a system where the whole powers of the pupil must be given for years to expression.

On the other hand, Heinicke, of Eppendorf, believed that the dumb could be taught to speak, and this has been the principle of the German school from the beginning. There is no doubt but the latter method would place its pupils upon a better footing with their fellow-men, from whom the sign-language must separate them to a great extent, but to become general it is necessary that in a majority of cases it should be a pronounced success. In the instances which have come