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[Statement of GEORGE F. BIGELOW, M.D., one of the Committee, furnished by request.]
Committee.—IRA ALLEN, M. D., Chairman ; SAMUEL G. BOWDLEAR, HENRY S. WASABURN, LIBERTY D. PACKARD, M. D., Rev. GEORGE F. HASKINS, Lucius SLADE, GEORGE F. BIGELOW, M. D.
Instructors.-Miss Sarah FULLER, Principal; Miss ANNIE E. Bond, Miss ELLEN S. BARTON, Miss Mary H. TRUE.
Harry E. Babbitt, .
Oct. 4, 1870.
10, 1869. Dec. 5, 1870.
May 2, 1870. .Jan. 19, 1870 * Nov. 22, 1869.
30, 1869. Jan. 31, 1870.
10, 1870. Sept. 19, 1870. Jan. 6, 1870. Oct. 18, 1870. Nov. 1, 1870.* Apr. 18, 1870. Nov. 10, 1869 1 Apr. 18, 1870. Nov. 15, 1869.
10, 1869. Dec 13, 1870.8 Sept. 6, 1870. Nov. 11, 1869.
EVA CO CT Org
Date of dismission May 1, 1871.
Date of dismission June 26, 1871.
This is one of the Public Day Schools of the city of Boston, and like each of the other schools it is under the charge of a special committee appointed annually by the School Board from its own number. The whole number of pupils during the year was 41, with an average attendance of 37. The School was established in 1869, and was designed to furnish instruction to deaf-mute children belonging in the city without the necessity of sending them to institutions at a distance from their homes. The method pursued, like that in the Clarke Institution, is known as the German system. The manual alphabet and the sign language are not employed, but the pupils are taught to speak and to read the language of others from the lips. In carrying out this system, even the limited experience of the School, the first of its kind in this country, indicates a great advantage enjoyed by children living at
home, where they are surrounded by hearing persons, and are thus incited to use the power of speaking as they acquire it in school, over those of the same class congregated in numbers under one roof, where the temptation to communicate by signs is so constant that they fail to employ their acquired power of speech as they would otherwise do. At home, too, they form a part of the family circle, with common interests and sources of occupation and amusement, and as they become able to communicate with those about them in a common tongue, they gradually cease, both in feeling and in fact, to belong to a peculiar and unfortunate class, shut out by their infirmities from the world, and unable to mingle in the enjoyments of social life.
When the School opened, the youngest class, composed of pupils between the ages of seven and ten years, was wholly unacquainted with the written or printed forms of letters. They are now perfectly familiar with both, and have a vocabulary of nearly five hundred words, which they form into as many sentences, and they have acquired sufficient command of language to enable them to communicate their simple wants and to give intelligent answers to many questions. They also understand directions expressed in a variety of ways. Such sentences as the following are readily comprehended : “All of the Third class, except Joseph, may write from their small books.”_" You must not be rude when at play.”—“ Ask Daniel if he wants to go to the store and buy some lunch.”—“ Please get your books and bring them to me.” These children read from the lips of the teachers the most familiar words and sentences, and will also read the same from the lips of any person, although not so readily. The progress of all the children in language has been highly satisfactory. All the branches comprised in the Grammar and Primary School courses are here taught, except singing. The school has been graded and classes formed corresponding nearly to the several grades in the other schools, though the series will not be complete until the beginning of the next year, when a “ First Class” will be organized.
During the month of April of the present year, a highly important feature was added to the methods of instruction employed in the school, concerning which too much cannot be said in commendation. This was the introduction of the system of “ Visible Speech,” invented by Professor Alexander Melville Bell of London. “The fundamental principle of the system is, that all relations of sound are symbolized by relations of form. Each organ and each mode of organic action concerned in the production or modification of sound has its appropriate symbol; and all sounds of the same nature produced at different parts of the mouth are represented by a single symbol turned in a direction corresponding to the organic position.”
The first application of the system to the instruction of deaf mutes was made in 1869, in South Kensington, England, by Mr. A. Graham Bell, a son of the inventor, with a small class in a private school. “No difficulty was found in giving the idea of the symbols to four children, the eldest twelve, and the youngest seven years of age, and nearly all the elementary sounds of Eng. lish were obtained from them in a few days.” Mr. Bell was invited to visit Boston for the purpose of imparting the system to the teachers and pupils in its deaf-mute school, and was so employed during the months of April and May, with results equally gratifying and surprising. “On the 13th of June a public exhibition was given of the condition of the school, and it was shown that the very youngest children had comprehended the meaning of the symbols. Taking the school as a whole, it was found that during the month of May over three hundred English sounds, which the pupils had formerly failed to utter by imitation, had been obtained by means of visible speech. Class illustration was given of the pronunciation of syllables with differences of accent and quantity, and individual illustration of the perfect utterance of words and sentences. Adult deaf mutes were present who had acquired all the sounds of the English language in ten lessons, and who could articulate a large number of words with absolute correctness. One pupil of the school, to whom special instructions had been given in the principles of elocution, read Longfellow's • Psalm of Life,' frum elocutionary marks with natural and expressive inflections of the voice.”
The applicability of this simple and beautiful system of symbols to the instruction of congenital mutes, as well as of those partially deaf or who have lost their hearing, renders it a priceless boon to all engaged in imparting articulation to deaf mutes, and arrangements have already been made for Mr. Bell to visit Northampton and Hartford, and to introduce his system into those institutions.