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of Lotus Flowers: Self-Education by Deaf Children in Thai Boarding Schools|
Once a child earns the “regular” status, he or she is given access to more activities. The children at this level most intensively engage in creative narrative, a type of interaction that is described later. They yearn to use their new fluency to receive connected, elaborate information, be it true or make-believe. They continue to be subject to the discipline of older youth. Because these regulars can understand instructions, they are the chief providers of labor and service to older pupils and teachers. They assume the rights and responsibilities of membership in both the student social organization and the Thai official school culture. The regular group is quite diverse, comprising members within a swath of childhood from about the ages of ten to fourteen years old and including barely proficient signers to fluent, institutionally savvy pupils. The life of a regular student is complicated by its own internal hierarchy that involves not only age but also the strictures of and attractions to association with the opposite gender. The children carefully choose members of their storytelling events, conversational circles, and games. Supapon spoke of being denied access to the very best story circles until she had “reached the upper level.”
Additional distinctions that the children make among themselves are not explained here. These involve personality (assertiveness brings respect), gender (boys valued over girls), and physical prowess. For example, the boys place high value on the personality trait of selfassertion as a basis for moving beyond mere regular status to a position of respect. Patipol explained how he became “an equal” in the eyes of fellow youth.
Researcher: Back when you were little did you get picked upon or intimidated by older pupils?The child’s access to enhanced social participation within the school is based on his or her achievement of a “mindful” state. A mindful state allows a child to begin to express his or her unique qualities and thereby gain status and respect.