Quotes from Dr. Watts By John Walker

What Dr. Watts thought about deaf education?

Quotes from Dr. Bill Watts

Photo:Dr. Bill Watts (right hand side) talking with the sponsor, Reginald M. Phillips

Dr. Bill Watts (right hand side) talking with the sponsor, Reginald M. Phillips

University of Sussex Special Collection

Watts acknowledged that deaf children have normal cognitive abilities, and even suggested that the academic failure of deaf children should fall upon the shoulders of their educators and the teaching methods used, rather than on the children themselves. Even more surprisingly for his time, Watts refers to Deaf people's social lives, and their preferred interaction with other Deaf, suggesting that those who are integrated into their 'sub-community' as well as mainstream society are more likely to be successful (also known as bilingual education).

Similarly, Watts' thesis references a number of researchers and academics, who found evidence to show that deaf children had normal cognitive abilities. This, of course, was a breakthrough, in comparison to the time where deaf children were viewed as inferior to hearing children.

"... the development of deaf children's cognitive abilities is remarkably unaffected by their lack of verbal language."

"It seems that the deficient performance of the deaf on some intellectual tasks can be more experiential than by linguistic deficiency."

"their main social life is with other deaf people."

"In recent years, there has been a great deal of talk about integration of the deaf by educationalist."

"Probably the most successful deaf people are those who are both integrated into the total community and into their own sub-community."

"Lack of academic success be due, not to the fault of the deaf themselves, but to our failure to stimulate them intellectually during their school years."

"Even without the help of verbal language or words, the deaf child does carry on a significantly useful form of mental activity."

"Teachers often become so concerned with the difficulty of teaching language to deaf children that they lose sign of the fact that it is extremely difficult for them to learn [spoken] language."

"For too long, the teaching of deaf children has been considered to be essentially language teaching and not enough concern has been shown in the development of thinking."

"Teachers know the academic achievement of their pupils that there are a disproportionate number of intellectually normal, yet functionally illiterate deaf young people leaving our schools." (quoted from Bates, 1972)

"We could well do with discontinuing the term 'oral failure'. Those children with impaired hearing whose linguistic development falls short of their potential intellectual ability because of their inability to lip-read could better be described as being unsuited for the continuation of the oral methods."

This page was added on 26/09/2012.

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