The Gough School of San Francisco is an important civic asset, for through it deaf children learn speech and "hearing."
The methods of instruction used in this modern institution have been described as follows by Morton Sontheimer,
a writer for a local paper.
"It is a school. Yet no child has ever heard his teacher. None could. This is the Gough School for deaf children,
at Washington and Gough streets. Through the corridors quiet little figures walk. In the yard romp boys and girls
at silent play. But in the classrooms teachers are talking to their pupils in normal, quiet tones. And in strained,
flat voices, the pupils, who have not heard a word, reply. They are being taught to talk, and to understand other
people's speech by watching the movement of the lips.
"Such institutions as this used to be called schools for the deaf and dumb. But the theory at the Gough School
is that none of these children are mute. They have simply never learned to speak because they have never heard
speech. Those that enter here have never enjoyed the solace of human communication. They are lonely children in
an incomprehensible world. No one has ever been able to talk to them, nor have they been able to talk to anyone.
"First they are taught to 'hear' 'Bow,' says the teacher. Then she bends their bodies in a bow. After patient
repetitions of this, the children learn that when the teacher's lips look like that they are supposed to bend.
'Jump,' she says, and she jumps in illustration. 'Sit.' 'Stand.' 'Run.' And finally a difficult one, two words-Turn
"Chinese, negroes, white boys and girls, and Japanese, all watch intently the revelations of the moving lips.
They are learning that these movements mean something, that people can tell each other things.
"Reading and speaking are taught simultaneously. The teacher writes the letter 'P' on the blackboard. She
says 'puh,' holding a child's hand before her mouth. The child imitates the movement of her lips and the ejaculation
of air. She writes 'OO' 'Oooooo,' she says, placing the pupil's hand against her neck where he can feel the vibration.
"Eventually a word evolves. The child can speak a word. It may sound flat, distorted, expressionless, but
at least the child is gaining the power to make himself understood. He knows nothing about voice inflection, little
about accent, because he has only seen, never heard these words, even when he speaks them himself.
"The radio ear, an instrument that highly amplifies sound, has helped teach some who have a trace of hearing.
It is comparatively new, and when a high school boy, who had been taught it, adjusted the head piece and heard
someone talk to him, all he knew was that there was a strange sensation in his head.
"After the children leave the sixth grade of this school they are able, though with difficulty, of course,
to take their places with normal students in regular classrooms. There are fifty-two pupils and six teachers at
the Gough School. The Presidio junior high and the McKinley school also have classes for the deaf.
"Mrs. Pearl Constantine, the teacher in charge of the Gough School, would not think of teaching normal children.
'I prefer these helpless little boys and girls,' she said."
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931
San Francisco, CA
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