This academic year began this past Tuesday, the day after the Labor Day holiday. The overwhelming majority of my students are those that have previously taken a class that I have instructed within my department’s curriculum here at the university. The sole exception to this is a new class that my department head assigned to me based on my evaluations from this university’s School of Inter-Disciplinary Studies class that I taught. This new class is a revision of an introduction to our Deaf Studies curriculum that offers an exploration of both Deaf culture and Deaf studies.
For those who are uncertain as to the differences in Deaf culture and Deaf studies, please allow me to explain. Deaf culture are the shared aspects and traits of Deaf identity (for example, signed or visual language, social customs, etc.). Deaf studies are the collected observations and evaluations of both the culture and the individuals. Neither situation is strictly limited to assessments, judgments or recommendations nor processed by Deaf scholars.
This particular class that I’m teaching examines the aspects and attributes of our Deaf culture and then compares and explores the traits of Deaf society that empower the particular customs and reinforces its uniqueness. The philosophy and socialization of Deafness is opened for each student to interpret and evaluate based on belief, experience, observation and practice. These observations will then be compiled by the entire class into an overview of what each component offers both the culture and the society.
As the weeks during underclass registrations drew to a close, the number of students enrolling reached 11 (minimum was set at 10). Classes began the day after the Labor Day holiday here (this past Tuesday). By yesterday, Thursday, the enrollment has now grown to a total of 19. There still is another full week before all class registrations are finalized for the entire semester. Evidently the collective class assignment for compiling an overview- assessment of the content isn’t as intimidating as it was originally thought to be.
The challenge in facilitating this class will most definitely be in keeping all the students enthusiastic and motivated. This hasn’t been a particular problem in the past but each new class presents new personalities!