An account of a challenging situation of allowing a hearing impaired child be mainstreamed into the public education system.
In this thought-provoking educational article, Davinia Inkson presents the reader with the challenge of how to deal caringly but effectively with a child with a hearing loss. Very controversial within the deaf community itself is the question of inclusivity or mainstreaming with the “least restrictive environment”.
As a third grade teacher, implementing teaching strategies that work is no easy task by any stretch of the imagination. As an educator, elementary school instruction calls for a very colorful way of making learning for children fun and meaningful. Nate was this very special child who was placed within the public school system to receive his education through the mainstreaming method. At first, Ms. Inkson was reluctant to take on this enormous responsibility because she felt, as many teachers do, that Nate’s hearing loss needs would exceed the needs of the rest of her hearing class.
Fortunately, for Ms. Inkson, she took up the challenge head-on and come up with some tried and proven techniques of how to effectively teach Nate as just another one of the kids in the classroom. Nate proved to be a ready and eager learner in Ms. Inkson’s class of 17 energetic kids. This candid article points out that there were many trials and tribulations along the way to making Nate’s and also Davinia Inkson’s experience worthwhile and memorable.
The use of the microphone was indeed a lifesaver to the survival of communicating in the classroom. Due to a previous experience of using a rock and passing it around to the students to communicate ideas and instructions, the substitution proved to be even more effective in helping Nate’s special needs to be met as a special needs student. Nate adapted very readily with the enthusiasm of a third-grade child eager for more new and exciting things to learn such as acquiring an ever-expanding vocabulary.
There were the days, though infrequent, when the equipment would be inoperable. Here ingenuity won the day in helping Ms. Inkson help Nate to navigate his way around in the world of the hearing people. The ‘on’ and ‘off’ light switches saved much time and energy in getting the students to just keep quiet and then time for the next set of instructions for another lesson in their busy schedule. Nate was a good sport in participating in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as a talented young actor. He loved music through African drum beats by just feeling the “vibrations” that permeated the furniture and the floor. Ms. Inkson, as an experienced educator, was able to “pull off” successfully what other professionals in the educational would view as impossible. She did, however, wish that similar publications or articles would have been very helpful in preventing too many trials and mistakes along the way.
Had it not been additional input from the students, Nate’s parents, the school administration and numerous learning resources at Davinia Inkson’s disposal, Nate’s learning experience as a special student would have been pointless and thus a waste of precious time and energy in demonstrating that a student with a hearing can in fact be successful in learning within the bounds of the public school system. The whole idea of mainstreaming in the public school system is quite a controversial one for the deaf community. Only time will tell overall of the success of the program. However, with the every-growing expense of sending a child to an exclusive deaf school is a weighty matter, a least restrictive environment may prove, to be in the future, a viable alternative for a deaf child.