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178 7 Cages of Reason—Bureaucratization and the Education of Deaf People in the Twentieth Century: Teacher Training, Therapy, and Technology In chapter 2, we outlined how professionalism, bureaucratization, and eugenics affected the cultural construction of “the disabled” through the late-nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Here, we explore those processes in relation to the education of deaf students. We continue to focus on developments in Britain but turn also to related developments in America and Australia. The histories of these three countries were not self-contained but interrelated. Australia was a colonial outpost of Britain, borrowing constantly from Britain for pedagogical ideas, recruiting staff members direct from Britain and Ireland, and eventually sending teachers to Britain for certification. American and British developments constantly affected each other as leading educators in both countries exchanged ideas, attended conferences, and looked to one another for expertise. Through the late-nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth, the forces of professionalization and bureaucratization along with the ideological dominance of eugenicism encompassed the transformation of deaf education and the associated transformation of processes that labeled a person as “disabled.” The particular form that bureaucratization took in Britain radically transformed the environment within which the education of deaf stuch07_GUPress_193022 3/21/02 9:26 AM Page 178 dents took place as well as the character and orientation of teachers. During this period, individual schools lost financial and administrative autonomy. Formal certification of teachers dominated teacher training from 1909. Pressures mounted with the initiation of compulsory primary education in 1870 and, later, of compulsory secondary education in 1944. These changes produced dramatic consequences for deaf students, particularly profoundly and congenitally deaf students. The character of our history changes in this period as heads of schools cease to be kings of little empires in which they are pedagogically idiosyncratic and creative and become part of a large, faceless bureaucracy. In this bureaucratic age, individuals disappear from the historical record. We no longer look to creative and dedicated individuals like Braidwood, l’Epée, Fay, Gallaudet , Charles Baker, or Thomas Arnold as the sources of education development . Rather, the history of education becomes the history of education acts and the work of education departments and government agencies. The influential people, if individuals emerge at all, are those who influence the shape and content of public policy. Thus, although the presence of St. John Ackers, barrister and member of parliament, at the Milan Congress of 1880 might have seemed anomalous at the time, his presence announced the arrival of new figures on the historical stage, those linked directly to government and to the institutionalized training of experts. A significantly wide range of factors influenced the development of deaf education in Britain in the late-nineteenth century: the peculiarities and timing of British bureaucratization; Britain’s involvement in major wars at the turn of the century and through the first half of the twentieth century; the effect of the British Empire on the character of the British class system and on class consciousness; and an intensely imperial orientation toward the English language. If we were to conclude, as so many have done, that the contrasts between the development of deaf education in Britain and America were somehow caused by divergent responses to and participation in the Milan Congress, responses that were linked to differences between a supposedly “oralist” Braidwood heritage in Britain and a “manualist” Gallaudet heritage in America—as is so often assumed —we would miss the point entirely. Britain’s heritage was far from “oralist,” as we have shown. The driving force of history by the end of the nineteenth century was the state and its need for the effective rationalization of educational processes. Bureaucratization and the Education of Deaf People 179 ch07_GUPress_193022 3/21/02 9:26 AM Page 179 The administrative rationalization of educational structures and processes toward the end of the nineteenth century was also associated with a more general rationalization of teaching methods. Included in this trend was a reorientation of teaching toward practicality. The high educational ideals of the earlier decades in the nineteenth century gave way to more vocationally oriented schooling. In an atmosphere dominated by rationality and pragmatism, educators and administrators labeled natural sign language as completely impractical and nonrational, and they responded to extreme ideological pressure to rationalize the form and content of any other varieties of manualism they used. However, to understand what influenced these linguistic processes, we need to understand the driving force behind the...


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