Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

undergrad class

July 1st, 2004

Well, I arrived for the second day of a class, having missed the introductory stuff of the first day because I’d already booked another job when this one came around. Didn’t take but 5 minutes for me to stir things up. It’s a small class, five students, the instructor, two interpreters, and I realized I ought to know people’s names – so I asked right then and there. I also used the same “interruption” to remind the instructor to look at the deaf student (not the interpreter) when addressing him. There was some tension, yes….but everyone now looks at the deaf student when speaking to him, so my action seemed to set a certain normative behavior into motion.
There’s a definite mood of ignoring the interpreters (or at least attempting to do so), but so far clarifications have gone fine and we’ve been free to move around and situate ourselves for the best possible visual angles, so that part is working well. There’s a definite disparity in communication – the hearing students are more participatory, but it might be personality and amount of background in the subject matter moreso than exclusionary communication practices (at least at this point). So far, the deaf student has made comments and interacted when he’s felt he had something to say (at least, as far as I can tell). There have been a few side comments between the deaf student and the interpreters…some of these I interpreted, including his teasing me about my attire. [Background: Yesterday we spoke about the possibility of me using the class as a site for my research and got into a conversation about professional norms and his preferences, what he thinks is important or insignificant. One of the things he brought up was the wearing of solid colors, he explained that it didn’t matter to him, that whatever people wore was everyday and his interactions with deaf people wearing wild clothes didn’t make a difference so why should it matter with an interpreter? The only situation he thought attire (in terms of simplicity and color) would matter is a large lecture or audience situation in which the interpreter might be further away in distance.] So…today I wore a patterned shirt. He teased me about it and when I responded in kind I also noticed that several students were looking at us. So I said, “Ralph (a pseudonym) is teasing the interpreter about my shirt, he thinks it’s too loud.” The instructor laughed and said, “I like it.” Class went on.

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