Finally, I am ready to share my experiences on how I made "them" look bad about the teacher preparatory program in this Part II series from Part I titled Let's Take a Look at the Backbone of Deaf Education: in a response to David Eberwein. In my previous vLog, I criticized the course syllabi offered in a deaf education program at University of Southern Mississippi (USM). It later led me to receive angry, explosive e-mail messages from USM students and staff saying that what I just exposed was not what it looked like to them. With this type of approach, you must have your own armor and shield ready to deal with such controversial issues. What I did was to provoke them, question them, oh yes attack them, anger them, put them in denial and you name it. I received several e-mails that I would like to share with you and how I responded to it. The bottom line with this approach is that it surely got their attention.
I thought it would be fair to share you their side of the story however most of them yet acknowledge the need to change in their curriculum. They defended their program saying that it was enriched with cultural experience in the deaf community outside the program. While I am pleased that they are immersed in the ASL environment but my focus is the curriculum per se.
When we study history, you can find plenty of events where one makes them look bad resulting to a positive outcome. What would our quality of life be like if we never had the muckrakers who dug out the dirty laundry to expose the robber barons and political bosses in deception? This is why I call my blog Deaf Progressivism to just simply usher the rightful path to encourage everyone to choose wisely that will affect deaf posterity.
The upsides to making them look bad: My previous vlog drew some respondents via email asking me what deaf education program would I recommend since my messages influenced them to think twice about enrolling such programs like USM that I gave my thumbs down because of the lack of deaf studies related courses offered in the program. Although I already know a few programs that offer bilingual/bicultural courses in the course syllabi but I don't want to be the one to provide a list so I would like to ask you for your recommendations based on what you know of other program.
So please allow me compare USM curriculum to McDaniel College and University of California in San Diego (UCSD) in deaf education. You can see how a big difference it is between USM and these two graduate programs. For example, not even one bilingual course or deaf history related course is offered at USM while McDaniel and UCSD provide plenty of deaf education core related courses. This time you be the judge because they thought that I am the only one thinking this way.
Here is a sample of McDaniel College and UCSD course syllabi so that you people of USM can see what a big difference on what it offers in a deaf education program. If you check out McDaniel and UCSD curricula, I am rather impressed that it focuses more on pedagogy core rather than clinical or pathology core. See it for yourself:
McDaniel Deaf Education program course syllabi:
CORE (4 courses)
DED:511 Foundations in Deaf Education
DED:517 Reading for Deaf Children
DED:518 Assessment and Instruction of Deaf Students with Special Needs
DED:541 First and Second Language Learning
Area of Concentration (7 courses)
DED:527 ESL Instruction in Content Areas
DED:534 Issues and Trends in Audiology and Spoken English Development
DED:535 Literacy Instruction for Deaf Students
DED:582 Bilingual-Bicultural Approaches to Teaching Deaf Students
DED:589 Seminar in Deaf Education
DED:595 Practicum Experience
Here is a sample from UCSD that it includes a selection of bilingual courses
A typical program of study includes:
COM/HIP 124: Voice: Deaf People in America
EDS 142A: ASL-English Bilingual Education Practices
EDS 161A: Innovative Instructional Practices
EDS 201: Intro to Resources for Teaching and Learning
EDS 203: Technology, Teaching and Learning
EDS 250: Equitable Educational Research and Practice
EDS 142B: ASL-English Bilingual Ed. Practices
EDS 161B: Innovative Instructional Practices
EDS 169A: Student Teaching Practicum
EDS 190: Research Practicum
EDS 205A: Reflective Teaching Practice
EDS 142C: ASL-English Bilingual Ed. Practices
EDS 161C: Innovative Instructional Practices
EDS 169B: Student Teaching Practicum
EDS 182: Inclusive Educational Practices
EDS 205B: Reflective Teaching Practices
EDS 151: Teaching and the English Language Learner
EDS 240A: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education
EDS 241: Advanced Topics in Deaf Education
EDS 233A: Topics in Education Research and Design (recommended)
EDS 240B: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education
EDS 290: Research Practicum
EDS 149: Deaf Education Specialist Student Teaching
EDS 240C: Research in ASL-English Bilingual Education
EDS 295: MA Thesis
Based on what I have seen the course syllabi listed in USM website, there are no such courses that focus mainly on literacy instruction, bilingual-bicultural approaches to teaching deaf students, instruction in content areas, first and second language learning offered. My sister who is also a deaf educator lives in the South even told me she knows a hearing friend who went there and found to loathe the program because they focused too much on oral-aural type of courses.
The downsides to making them look bad: Made some respondents upset and viewed me as deafism. "Making them look bad also means making me look bad" syndrome is what I got myself tangled into but weaved my way out of the web.
These are the comments copied from YouTube under my vlog:
seoshrin (3 weeks ago)
This is an example of deafism - criticizing young people who have a penchant for doing good....instead of criticizing, why not offer suggestions for improving the interactions between the deaf and hearing. Building cocoons rather than reaching out is not beneficial.
avbria (3 weeks ago)
I have already made suggestions if you didn't understand what I said. I am criticizing the system as it seriously needs improvement! A whole bunch of clinical related courses are so uncalled for in deaf education. It has to go! It is not about interaction between hearing and deaf people though.
avbria (3 weeks ago)
By the way..this system practices audism and it is considered an oppression for the deaf. Explain me how a video that is audio based not made accessible for prospective deaf teachers? Explain me how all of these courses are aligned to aural-oral training rather than learning about deaf studies? You calling my example deafism? You oughta be ashamed of yourself.
What that writer meant is that I criticized Zachary Breland. Remember when I called Zachary, a hearing man who just graduated from USM, arrogant because he wanted to revolutionize deaf education when he announced it to the world? That phrase took me to feel like a Darwinism effect. What I later found out that he meant to improve the teacher preparatory deaf education program knowing that it needed more deaf centered curricula. Actually, I was glad to understand more about his intentions so I offered my apology through his close friend who sent me an email (below).
Hello. I am a student at The University of Southern Mississippi and I just wanted to e-mail you to better understand your video blog and maybe try to explain a little more about USM. I have seen the many comments left on your blog and I hope never to come across as some of those do.
I am a deaf education minor at USM and although I am just a minor I feel that the program at USM has inspired me to go on someday and, after learning much more, teach at a school for the deaf. I know I have many more things to learn and I understand why looking at the class you have seen would upset you, but not all of the classes you mentioned are deaf education classes. Some of those are audiology, speech path, etc. I know that many of the classes that deaf education majors have to take do focus on oral education and many of the students at USM dislike that there is so much focus on oral deaf education.
Realizing that there are many oral class, we do still have 3 great ASL classes. While I completely understand that that is not enough we are all encouraged to participate outside of class and to get involved with deaf culture. I personally have learned more from involvement outside of class than in class. I have met many deaf people who continue to teach me about deafness and deaf culture. I know that from first glance USM many not seem like it has a very good program, but please know that they are working on the program and that many of the students who come out of the program do have more experience with ASL then just three classes.
Also, just a quick comment on Zach Breland. He is one of my good friends and I know he never intended to sound so big headed and so "pity-pity." Please believe me when I say he is on your side. He agrees that program has flaws and what he meant by "revolutionize deaf education" is that he wants to change programs like USM's so that students who come out of those programs are prepared and know more ASL. If Zach could set up a program there would be WAY more ASL. He is pro ASL all the way. He was never trying to offend anyone and he didn't mean it the way it came across. I know you don't have to believe me and I know that everyone has his or her own opinion. I just wanted to let you know in a more civilized way and between just you and me what USM's program is really about.
I apologize for those who made USM look bad through their comments on your blog. They were just upset, I'm sure. And thank you for your time in reading this. I just felt the need to e-mail you.
I appreciate your constructive approach to respond to me in a way that I am able to listen to your perspective. You seem like a reasonable person on how you provide your views in an objective way and that makes me more willing to respond to you.
I understand that my message may upset some people but it is not my intention to attack anyone but the system. I have been in the profession for many years and please understand that it is getting an old school for me to see how bigot attitudes especially by people who are more aligned to oralism taking control to make decision for deaf children that their language has been taken away. One of the causes to engage in this attitude starts with the teacher preparatory programs that weigh heavily on teaching clinical related courses
When reading the article about Zachary, it had drawn me to learn more about USM. While I do understand that the course syllabi is not designed for TODs but for audiologist, speech pathologists, etc., I recognize that there are a very few deafness related courses offered other than ASL but to me it is not good enough. I am glad that you agree with that.
I have nothing against Zachary. I was just turned off when reading the statement making it sounding like he knows it all. I realize that it was not his intention to give out this kind of message but it was how I interpreted it and there were other commenters who had agreed. You see, we have struggled and struggled in the profession to make it right, to help deaf children not only to gain strong literacy but self-esteem and leadership skills that they are able to advocate for themselves. I believe that we all have this very same goal for deaf children but it is always a matter of how to do it and who will do it. If you can take a moment to look at the vlog post relating to deaf education found at www.joeybaer.com, you will see what I mean.
I am just getting so tired of this same old story about deaf education in general. USM is just an example if you happen to notice that there are other programs not fulfilling the in-depth study especially not providing bilingual instructional courses. Most new teachers don't know any squat how to bridge English using ASL. I just get so frustrated seeing teachers coming out of the program knowing so much about oral/aural methods but little about ASL.
Perhaps you and other USM students had been making recommendations on how to improve the program like I did with my graduate program when studying at University of Rochester and NTID more than a decade ago. I understand with relief that USM provides students opportunities to interact with the deaf community and it is so important indeed. However, it is just that formal academic deaf related courses are still necessary.
There are some simple things that can be changed in the website. First make the audio-based video accessible by adding captions. Are we not encouraging deaf prospective teachers enrolling the program? I am curious if there were any in the program. Second, provide several video clips showing the professors explaining the program in ASL. I have been vlogging and it amazes me that there are still many universities/colleges behind to show their program in brief ASL video clips.
I will share my thoughts in my next vlog but it would be nice if Zachary is able to respond to me. My apologies to him if I have offended him. I should not be making a judgment about a person based on reading an article but unfortunately that was how I perceived it. You may forward this email to him. If he doesn't respond, that is ok with me.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts,
At least some of them admitted it needed improvement and I certainly hope the administrators are listening that they are taking a second look to revise their programs to shift to pedagogy approach and making it more sensitive for prospective deaf teachers of the deaf to have access to communication when showing a video with no subtitles that is completely audio. Some said I have no idea what I am talking about since they claimed that they were involved in deaf community like ASL choir and a deaf social every semester, that I overlooked the several ASL courses that are offered for the summer and mini-session, including: Academic Signs and Finger Spelling. USM’s students are also very active in any deaf social event within a hundred-mile radius. They attended Sonic Sign Night, Deaf Picnics, etc, etc, etc…Sigh, but still they don't get it. This is not my point about what they do outside the classroom. I have yet seen a strong course syllabi reflecting deaf centered studies. They kept on saying they have additional ASL courses which is a great thing but remember, learning how to sign and how to use ASL to teach English are two completely separate courses.
So in conclusion, they viewed me as basher toward their program but I view it as pointing out the hidden truth. What I am asking you to please share your comments on what you think about USM program and what teacher preparatory college that offers an inclusive deaf centered educational program that you would strongly recommend to the prospective teachers. This will allow attracted prospective teachers to inquire and think more carefully about which program should they enroll as I got some of their e-mails asking me what programs to recommend when viewing my vLog on USM. Again, the power of vlogging and unity! Thanks!