Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School (Deaf Lives)

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9781563683008: Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School (Deaf Lives)

When Gina Oliva first went to school in 1955, she didn’t know that she was “different.” If the kindergarten teacher played a tune on the piano to signal the next exercise, Oliva didn’t react because she couldn’t hear the music. So began her journey as a “solitary,” her term for being the only deaf child in the entire school. Gina felt alone because she couldn’t communicate easily with her classmates, but also because none of them had a hearing loss like hers. It wasn’t until years later at Gallaudet University that she discovered that she wasn’t alone and that her experience was common among mainstreamed deaf students. Alone in the Mainstream recounts Oliva’s story, as well as those of many other solitaries.

In writing this important book, Oliva combined her personal experiences with responses from the Solitary Mainstream Project, a survey that she conducted of deaf and hard of hearing adults who attended public school. Oliva matched her findings with current research on deaf students in public schools and confirmed that hearing teachers are ill-prepared to teach deaf pupils, they don’t know much about hearing loss, and they frequently underestimate deaf children. The collected memories in Alone in the Mainstream add emotional weight to the conviction that students need to be able to communicate freely, and they also need peers to know they are not alone.

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From the Author:

Author’s Note

Children of My Heart was the first title I envisioned for this book. In just four words, this phrase describes the depth of feeling I have for all deaf and hard of hearing children. Living with my father, who also had a hearing loss, intimately connected me with the controversies surrounding sign language, deaf history, and deaf children. Our lives were and are inextricably tied, and it is curious how we chose such different ways of dealing with our hearing loss. My father remained in the hearing world his entire life. He laughed when others laughed and smirked when others smirked. Not only that, but I feel certain he knew of the Deaf community, because he worked for almost thirty years at the New York Daily News, and I know from my conversations with other Deaf people that many Deaf men worked there during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Yet, my father never once mentioned this to me.

I saw the impact of his struggles (and my struggles) on my mother, my siblings, their children, and even our extended family. My heart aches for relationships that were marred by a lack of knowledge and understanding. My heart aches for never having known my hard of hearing grandfather and great-grandmother. But most of all, my heart aches for deaf children today, especially those who are solitaires in hearing schools.

On one of those few occasions where my father and I did discuss hearing loss, he suggested that I "do something to help people who cannot hear." When he died on my forty-sixth birthday, the drive to produce this book began to grow from embers to fire. I began to feel compelled to produce a work that would illuminate the issues over which he and I had so passionately disagreed. I could not understand how we could differ so much in our perspectives concerning our shared uniqueness. I felt that he denied himself and our family so much joy by refusing to learn sign language. His recalcitrance greatly saddened me. I wanted my work to shed light on our opposing ideas about deafness. Frankly, I wanted to produce a work that would help others avoid what I perceived as the pitfalls my father stumbled into and from which he never escaped.

I reached out to adults who were also mainstreamed as solitaires for all or most of their K–12 years. I invited them to correspond with me electronically about their experiences, a task that they gladly accepted. They concurred that the labels, solitary and solitaire, encapsulated their experiences. I collected and analyzed their writings, shared my analyses with them, and included many of their comments in this book.

Over the years, I have met people who would put me on a pedestal, declaring that I was somehow unique, better, different than "those other deaf people." In their effort to lift me up, they put others down, albeit unintentionally. I want very much to make the point that my story is not unique. Every solitaire made their own unique points. I am deeply grateful for their willingness to share their stories, enthusiasm, and love for deaf and hard of hearing children with me, and with you.

About the Author:

Gina A. Oliva is Professor in the Physical Education and Recreation Department at Gallaudet University.

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Book Description Gallaudet University Press,U.S., United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Gina Oliva first went to school in 1955, she didn t know that she was different. If the kindergarten teacher played a tune on the piano to signal the next exercise, Oliva didn t react because she couldn t hear the music. So began her journey as a solitary, her term for being the only deaf child in the entire school. Gina felt alone because she couldn t communicate easily with her classmates, but also because none of them had a hearing loss like hers. It wasn t until years later at Gallaudet University that she discovered that she wasn t alone and that her experience was common among mainstreamed deaf students. Alone in the Mainstream recounts Oliva s story, as well as those of many other solitaries. In writing this important book, Oliva combined her personal experiences with responses from the Solitary Mainstream Project, a survey that she conducted of deaf and hard of hearing adults who attended public school. Oliva matched her findings with current research on deaf students in public schools and confirmed that hearing teachers are ill-prepared to teach deaf pupils, they don t know much about hearing loss, and they frequently underestimate deaf children. The collected memories in Alone in the Mainstream add emotional weight to the conviction that students need to be able to communicate freely, and they also need peers to know they are not alone. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781563683008

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Book Description Gallaudet University Press,U.S., United States, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New.. Language: English . Brand New Book. When Gina Oliva first went to school in 1955, she didn t know that she was different. If the kindergarten teacher played a tune on the piano to signal the next exercise, Oliva didn t react because she couldn t hear the music. So began her journey as a solitary, her term for being the only deaf child in the entire school. Gina felt alone because she couldn t communicate easily with her classmates, but also because none of them had a hearing loss like hers. It wasn t until years later at Gallaudet University that she discovered that she wasn t alone and that her experience was common among mainstreamed deaf students. Alone in the Mainstream recounts Oliva s story, as well as those of many other solitaries. In writing this important book, Oliva combined her personal experiences with responses from the Solitary Mainstream Project, a survey that she conducted of deaf and hard of hearing adults who attended public school. Oliva matched her findings with current research on deaf students in public schools and confirmed that hearing teachers are ill-prepared to teach deaf pupils, they don t know much about hearing loss, and they frequently underestimate deaf children. The collected memories in Alone in the Mainstream add emotional weight to the conviction that students need to be able to communicate freely, and they also need peers to know they are not alone. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781563683008

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