Constructions of Educational Meaning in the Narratives of Four Deaf Women Teachers

By Compton, Mary V. | American Annals of the Deaf, December 1997 | Go to article overview

Constructions of Educational Meaning in the Narratives of Four Deaf Women Teachers


Compton, Mary V., American Annals of the Deaf


Deaf teachers bring unique perspectives to the teaching of deaf and hard of hearing students, yet their "voices" have been recognized in neither sociological, psychological, nor philosophical accounts of education and deafness. In the present ethnographic study, narrative analysis is used to frame a description of how four deaf women make sense of their lives as teachers as they disclose their beliefs concerning teaching, their deafness, and their connection with the Deaf community.

Educational research that elicits women teachers' narratives has gained momentum in recent years (Casey, 1989, 1990, 1993; Nelson, 1983; Spencer, 1986), yet the "voices" of ordinary deaf teachers have never been "heard" in the larger social domain.

The value of deaf teachers is asserted in terms of their positive psychosocial identity (Stevens, 1980; Vernon & Andrews 1990), increased teaching effectiveness (Serwatka, Anthony, & Simon, 1986), American Sign Language (ASL) fluency (Johnson, Liddell, & Erting, 1989), and Deaf culture membership (Paul & Quigley, 1990; Saylor, 1992). National recommendations to recruit deaf students to teacher preparation programs verify the importance of the unique perspectives and abilities deaf persons bring to the social and psychological development of deaf and hard of hearing children (Bowe, 1991; Commission on Education of the Deaf, 1988; Coryell, 1989). Although several demographic profiles of deaf teachers yield interesting descriptive data (Corbett & Jensema, 1981; Jensema, 1977; Mobley, 1991), interpretive narrative analysis can facilitate understanding of how deaf teachers perceive themselves as teachers (Bogdan & Bicklen, 1983; Denzin, 1989).

How do the experiences of deaf teachers differ from those of their hearing counterparts? How do female individuals who are deaf make sense of their lives as teachers and as women? How do they respond to the deficit construction of deafness so often imposed upon them by hearing society? How do they (re)construct significance within the Deaf community?

In the present article, I discuss ways in which four deaf women teachers "author" the meaning of their own lives, and analyze the metaphors of teaching they have constructed in their narrative interviews. The narratives constitute a portion of a larger study of 27 deaf teachers in the southeastern United States. Of the 27 teachers interviewed, 18 were women. Narratives were collected in semistructured, videotaped interviews I conducted in Pidgin Sign English (PSE). Typewritten transcripts were subsequently analyzed for implicit and explicit expressions of educational values in metaphorical form (Kliebard, 1975). Although expositions of curricular metaphors continue to proliferate in educational literature, it is rare for such analyses to situate constructions of educational meaning within specific communities (Casey, 1990; Page, 1990). It is within the interpretive and social community of deafness that I explore the social selves of four women teachers as they respond to the societal and institutional contexts that shape their lives. The four narratives analyzed in the present study highlight differences in experiences and perceptions of educational and social constructions of deafness among members of the community of teachers who are deaf.

Four Teachers

Martha, Rachel, Sarah, and Tina (all four names are pseudonyms) bring diverse backgrounds to their narratives. An exposition of age of onset of deafness, family history of deafness, and social memberships frames one's understanding of the parameters of each teacher's construction of educational meaning and emphasizes the implication of peer socialization in validating collective identity. The educational and professional backgrounds of the teachers are depicted in Table 1; aspects of each teacher's membership in Deaf culture are outlined in Table 2.

Martha

Martha, whose hearing loss was discovered when she was 3 years old, has two deaf siblings, a deaf niece, and a deaf nephew.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Constructions of Educational Meaning in the Narratives of Four Deaf Women Teachers
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.