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Friday, October 12, 2007


I'm fairly certain I'm about to drop my ASL class. This isn't something I do. I take on a challenge and make the best of it until it's done. I will gripe and complain about it, but I'll get it done.

But I've found this class has issues. First is that we're required to do some "lab" work where we go in and watch videos and fill out sheets full of info. But the lab is only open limited hours, and all of those hours are between 9am and 5pm. So without taking a day off work, I can't do the labs. But then later we found out you could borrow the videos from the library. Trouble is, you can borrow one at a time (of 12), and they frequently don't have any in, and you have to return in them in 48 hours or pay a $1.50 per HOUR late fee. I can't imagine having twelve opportunities to stop by during library hours (not open on the weekend) and gamble on getting a DVD copy (some are VHS, and there's no waiting list either way), going home and watching it, and returning it in less than 2 days. So, either I take a day off work to go watch them all at one go in the lab (if that's even possible) or I skip this assignment. (The funny thing is that it would be just as easy to offer these videos online and have them restricted to those enrolled in the class, but that's a little too 21st century apparently.)

But the next issue is stickier. The teacher is deaf. This has been fine by and large. For the first day we had an interpreter to translate our questions and his answers. Since then we've been doing well using a mix of ASL, pantomime, and (on rare occasions) writing things on the board. So the communication aspect hasn't been a biggie. What has turned out to be a problem is how much time the teacher wastes on telling us stories about his wife and his life as a pastor and his travels. Not so much that it's not interesting and all, but it means we lack time to practice the signs we're supposed to learn. As for the actual curriculum, he demonstrates it once, and then moves on and usually in class we don't have time to practice beyond that initial introduction. At the end of each class, he admonishes us to practice, practice, practice on our own, but this is tough with only static diagrams and no collaboration to correct mistakes. We had our first quiz a week ago, and I had practiced, practiced, practiced, but it was a tough quiz, and I did better than most of the class with an 80%. Most students failed. As a teacher, this would've been a warning sign to me that things aren't coming across, but to him, it just meant we weren't practicing enough. He told us this as we went over it. (Sort of like doctors are the worst patients, those who know a lot about educational theory and practice make horrible students.)

Last night, he finally gave us 20 minutes to work together in small groups practicing. We started running through the vocabulary in chapters 5 & 6. We did the signs, helped each other correct signs or do ones we couldn't remember or had missed. Then after a few minutes he stopped us all and wrote on the board "WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! NO VOICE IN CLASS!!!" He then proceeded to lecture us at length about how we were disrespectful to the deaf community and how in class we were never to speak and generally just sort of went off on us. He wrote RESPECT in big fat black letters on the board. I thought he had a lot of nerve to imply that a roomful of people wanting to learn the language of the deaf community had no respect for that community. All I could see was a teacher who had no respect for the various learning styles of his students. For me, repeating the word to associate the motion with the word in my brain is how I learn this so that later I can do it without needing to speak, but it's a critical part of the learning process for me. It's a classic reinforcement: read it, say it, do it. Works like a charm. But we're not allowed.

Since I'm only taking this class for my own edification and my own desire to learn, I hate losing that opportunity, but there are no other consequences to quitting. We've got a sub next week, so I think I'll show up one more time and get that much more information, then practice, practice, practice what I know and withdraw from the class. Maybe I'll take ASL again, but not in the fall quarter next time. The thought of trying to finish this class during Dickens season was just another bundle of hay on the camel's back.


  • I see where you are coming from. If it were a French class it would be obvious.

    By Blogger Chrisfs, at 4:33 PM  

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