Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Deaf Documentary on NHK: "A World of Boisterous Silence"

Screen grab and text from NHK World - Japan.

A World of Boisterous Silence

Broadcast on September 29, 2018

Children who cannot hear learn through sign language at Meisei Gakuen, a school in Tokyo. Their small hands weave together many words. With no narration, the program explores the children's silent, vibrant world and the lives of alumni. The children's eyes sparkle as they recite, in sign language, the poem "The Song of Spring" from their textbook. They do not use their voices. But as we watch the silent recitation, the fresh early spring breeze caresses our cheeks, and tiny veronica flowers bloom in profusion before our eyes. For many decades, Japan's schools for the deaf gave priority to adapting to a society where hearing people are the majority. But at Meisei Gakuen, students are encouraged to embrace their deafness. We turn our eyes to that "boisterous world of silence" and perspectives on Japanese society, as seen by alumni of the school.

Available until October 13, 2018


Of the 90 or so deaf schools in Japan, Meisei Gakuen is the only one that uses Japanese Sign Language (JSL) as its language of instruction. The school has a bicultural (Deaf/Japanese) and bilingual approach (JSL and Japanese) to education. Teachers are both Deaf and hearing. I have visited the school once and found the environment to be very different from other deaf schools that employ oral methods. Please check out this film while it is still available on-line.

Thanks to my former student Bryce for the heads up on this!

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