Education for deaf People Essay

autobiography / deaf / teaching / education / book / suffering / children / communication / school

  Laurent Clerc: The Story of His Early Years

 The book by Laurent Clerc is a kind of a fictionalized autobiography in which the voice of LaurentClerc describes his boyhood in France. The author reveals the reader his experiences as a deaf student that later on would develop his own progressive methods. The main objective of these methods is to teach the deaf.

Laurent Clerc is the author of the book Laurent Clerc The Story of His Early Years. Laurent Clerc depicts the story of a young boy, who is growing up in Paris and has been once captured in the novel.The book reveals the story about the deaf teacher who helped Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to establish schools to educate deaf Americans. A whole process took place during the nineteenth century.

The story is very interesting since it gathers the personal experiences of the author. Special attention in the book is paid to the hardships that might have been encountered by a deaf person while building his career. Clerc is known for his vivid depiction of the experiences that led this person to using the progressive teaching methods. The most influential moment about a whole story was Laurent Clerc’s long stay at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf in Paris. It was the place where the author has encountered sharply distinct personalities. One of these was saintly, inspiring deaf teacher Massieu. No less important role can be attributed to the vicious Dr. Itard and his heartless “experiments” on deaf boys. The story can be characterized as richly entertaining as well as informative.

The book also mentions many of Laurent Clerc’s personal achievements. One of these was his winning a lasting renown as the deaf teacher. He is also known to help Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet establish schools to educate deaf Americans in the 19th century.

The book is full on child reminiscences from the past. The main benefit is the author’s ability to show the suffering of the people. Suffering is very complicated process. When to look at the essence of the whole process one can see that it shows person’s concern of being deaf. The case is described in the following way: “Something was with me. I didn’t know exactly what except me. I did not know exactly what, except that I lacked talent with my mouth”. The words like these imply on the author’s inability to send mouths messages.

Laurent Clerc gives the reader a detailed description of his early experiences with deaf people. A whole thing seems to be easy for the people. The inability to speak and to voice person’s ideas is often referred to as a “lump in the throat”. (p.18) The author of the book describes the situation with the following words: “They aimed their mouths to each other, wiggled their lips, sometimes got lump in their throats, and a message transpired. They even tossed messages to one another back. They still caught them”. (p.23)

The case with Massieu is very sad. This person is in charge of inventing a sign system that was predominately used in their homes. Clerc reveals the reader a Massieu’s story. The main protagonist of the story had five brothers and sisters, all of the deaf like himself. The parents of this person were not deaf. Massieu was not that lucky. The most tragic part of the story is Massieu’s description his school years. The tragedy of life is accentuated with the following motif: “As deaf children, he and his brothers and sisters could only match as the other village children trooped past on their way to school, but Massieu was devastated” (p.32). When saying like this the author implies on the difficulty to teach deaf students. From his point of view it is a very difficult task for the teacher to teach deaf students. The main problem encountered is inability of the teacher to understand his students.

To summarize, the main purpose of the book was to give the reader a brief history of the education of the deaf. The history is revealed through a critical review of Clerc’s book. The book is devoted to discussing the contrasts that exist in education of the deaf. The book offers the reader some useful links that are aimed at the research of the education issue.


 The author also reveals the reader his own personal story of communication. According to the words of the author, communication of the main protagonist has been carried with the help of letter he regularly wrote to his parents. There was no case for oral communication.

“There is still nothing for the deaf in America.” (p.35) When making the statement like this the author implies on the fact that America is lacking both schools and the teachers. Almost nothing is left from the old system – that is the main idea that has been once mentioned by the author. 

Laurent Clerk has all rights to be regarded a heroic figure. This expression is not occasional since the author had not only a good heart but the ability to create his own system of signs.

Trips to doctors is one of the tragic moments that was depicted in the story of Laurent Clerk. The story shows the boy who had to go through an enormous suffering since he was deaf. The situation is empirically clear during Clerk’s visit to the doctor. The boy described his experience in the following way: “I hated the big hands on my face, the things at my chin and earlobes, and the rough edges of the instrument pushed into my ears. (p.14)

School is not for a deaf boy. That is one more problem that has been touched in the Clerk’s story. The idea has been accentuated with the help of Massieu case. Being a deaf boy, Massieu had a strong determination to obtain school education. However, the father of the boy seemed to willing to accept the idea. Massieu had only one way – to watch and wait. Still waiting has brought no result – the boy was lonely and unhappy. Begging father for teaching seemed to bring no result. All he reckoned was a firm refusal. The books implies on the evil nature of society that believed that there was no way to teach children.

Massieu’s case description can be viewed as Clerk’s attempt to educate the reader about current problems of the past society. The author also shows that the problem of deafness was largely ignored. As a result, many talented children were left without a chance to receive education.

The main idea of the author is to change the societal attitude to deafness. School system is one of the areas to be transformed and improved. Banning a deaf child from school is very cruel act, especially when we are speaking about parents. Teaching a deaf person must be done with distinction. It means that the society must explore the new ways of teaching deaf children.

“Medicine doesn’t work on the dead” – this was the conclusion of the leading doctors of those times. The statement has been supported by the idea that all deaf people have a dead ear. The science could do nothing about the whole case. The statement was cruel in reference to the deaf people. As a result, many deaf people had to pay an enormous price for this conclusion.

There was no way to tackle deafness in medicine; however there were many chances to tackled this issue in education. To summarize, the main idea of the essay is to change the attitude to the deaf people. Clerk’s and Massieu’s cases are the vivid examples of how the change in attitude to the case changed the lives of many deaf people.



Clerc: The Story of His Early Years. Gallaudet University Press, 01/2002,


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