Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/99

This page has been validated.

teacher's lips, and, looking up at her, shook her head. "She did not watch my lips?" asked the teacher. "No, she hears." And she pointed to her ear. The child, then pointing to her teacher's ear, looked up in question. "Yes," answered the latter, "I hear too." She stood a moment trying to understand it; then she laid her finger on her own ear, pointed to herself and slowly shook her head. The knowledge of her difference from the common order of things had come to her.

As one passes from the youngest to the oldest class, the progress is very marked. In some of the rooms the pupils only say separate words, in others a few sentences; but in the last a surprise awaits every one. There sits a class of nine pupils from about thirteen to sixteen years old, who, at the low-toned request of their teacher, rise, come forward to nearer seats, and recite the answers clearly and correctly to the questions of an ordinary geography lesson. Five or six of them spoke with especial ease, and the teacher assured the visitor that, not only could a prolonged conversation be kept up with them upon any subject, but that, in fact, the class had probably understood all the visitor had been saying since she came in. Their faces lighted up when one of them hesitated a moment for the answer, and each one showed an anxiety to be questioned; they whispered to one another, and were reproved for it just like the restless little creatures imprisoned for five hours daily in any other school in the city. One girl, in particular, spoke with such a pleasant inflection and so much animation, that the visitor said, "She must be a semi-mute, surely?" "No," the teacher answered; "all of my pupils were born deaf." Of two who seemed a little backward, she said: "They are not strong children, and their articulation is not so good as the others; but it is a great advantage to them to be able to understand what is said to them, even if they never speak very well." She further stated that all the usual studies of the upper grammar-school classes were pursued by her own. It seems to all who see it a marvelous thing; but the ignorance still prevailing in regard to the system and its results is incredible. The teachers say they are asked the strangest questions every day: Why they do not teach the children to sing; whether they use raised letters; whether their work is not easy, as it must certainly require but little education to teach such benighted minds. But everything was outdone by the prominent member of a board of education who, after expressing his amazement as he passed from grade to grade of the school, asked, "How long is it before they begin to hear?" A wonderful system, indeed, he must have thought it; and he could not plead the possession of a depth of general ignorance such as a chance glimpse discovered in the mind of that woman who came in to visit the school, and, after taking a large part of the teacher's time to explain the method, looked over the young faces before her once again, and asked, "Now, air thim sinsible?"

One of the most beautiful things about the school is the affection