Deaf techniques of the body in the preschool classroom
Graham, Patrick Joseph
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This thesis focuses on the development of an embodied deaf habitus as part of establishing a deaf identity in young preschool children. When deaf children are introduced to deaf modes of gestures, facial expressions, establishing attention, positioning themselves in space, and given explicit reasoning for these behaviors, they can internalize these behaviors, to the point where these movements become habitual. This thesis presents and analyzes examples of children and teachers in signing deaf preschools in three countries (Japan, France, and the United States) as they employ aspects of Deaf bodily habitus. Data collected through focus group interviews, individual interviews, and microanalyses of scenes in videos of days in Deaf kindergartens suggest that Deaf signing preschools are key sites for deaf children (especially those from hearing families) to acquire not just sign language fluency, but also a Deaf bodily habitus, which is a key aspect of cultural Deafness. The research focuses on pedagogical strategies Deaf preschool teachers use to support the development in deaf children of a Deaf habitus and Deaf identity.