In a move blasted by rights groups, a 3-year-old-deaf boy has been told by his Nebraska school district to change the way he signs his name because the gesture resembles shooting a gun.
I’m not talking about the gross inappropriateness of treating a 3-year-old child this way, although that’s less-than-smart, too. I’m talking about the general loss of understanding (or willful misunderstanding) of human intention in communication. At its simplest, one could understand being annoyed (and no more than that) by a young child who meant to signify a gun with a hand gesture. We can understand this as similar to the finger slash across the throat — long understood to mean, among other things, “you’re dead.” But it is clear the child has no such intention. He’s “saying” his name. He’s signifying himself. And, in a move of stunning callousness by education professionals, he’s being asked not to indicate himself. He’s being asked to negate himself.
That’s a tough lesson for a kid that age.
If we are unable or unwilling to understand intention, then we are unable or unwilling to understand much of anything.
The death of intention is something I’ll be following because it leads to exactly this kind of nonsense.