“…a specific trial of the oral system…”
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 20 December 2013
On November 3rd 1880 a notice appeared in the Times stating that in a response to the Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf (also called the Milan Congress), the London Asylum had “decided to give a specific trial to the pure oral system for educating the deaf” (see Time Digital Archive).
Eager to pounce on this opportunity to inveigle themselves into involvement with the school, the Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System wrote to the school.
After inquiring as to whether the report was the case, they then said,
this Association will be happy to co-operate in any way in their power in carrying out the contemplated trial, and would willingly consider any proposals they might make both as to the supply of teachers already qualified, or as to the training of other teachers on the pure oral system, for the furtherance of the object above referred to. (see minute book & images one & two below)
The school secretary W.H. Warwick replies,
I have to inform you that your polite letter of the 3rd ins. was submitted to my committee on Saturday last, when I received instructions to beg your acceptance of their thanks for the same, and to inform you that their arrangements are such that it will not be necessary to consider any proposals for the supply of or training of teachers under the auspices of your Association.
The Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf (1875-1915) had been founded by Sir Benjamin Ackers, father of a Deaf daughter. The poor daughter was a guinea pig for his hobbyhorse, the oral system, but sadly was found years later by Gilby, living an isolated existence with very little ability to communicate in any way.
The recently appointed head of the London Asylum (1878) and long time teacher at the school before that, Richard Elliott, was clearly reluctant to lose control over education at the school, which we might divine was the intention of the Society.
There is much more along these lines to be found in the minute books.
To see the full sized pages click onto the images.
Minute books of the society
The Times, Wednesday, Nov 03, 1880; pg. 11; Issue 30029; col G
SOCIETY FOR TRAINING TEACHERS OF THE DEAF (1875-1915)
(Society for Training Teachers of the Deaf and for the Diffusion of the German System)
Also called the Ealing Society. Amalgamated with the Fitzroy Sq. Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf & dumb to form the National Association for the Oral Instruction of the Deaf & Dumb.