1) Listen to the entirety of the “Batman” episode of This American Life podcast: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/544/batman
2) Take notes while you listen: Who’s story is this? How does it challenge conventionally-held assumptions about blindness? Why is that significant? How does the show incorporate both research and narrative? What kind of effect does that balance achieve? Who does it ask you to identify with? Who are the various stakeholders (people who care/are affected by) the conversation happening in this story?
3) Post a minimum 450-word discussion post (I’ve created a forum) that explains how the show weaves multiple sources and perspectives together to create a more complicated story than the one it challenges. In other words, how does this story replace a simplistic/erroneous narrative with more a nuanced and complex one? What does this episode teach you about research? How does the thesis of the episode evolve (i.e. change, become more interesting or rich)?
4) You must also read and respond to TWO of your classmates’ posts. Engage meaningfully with their ideas in at least 200 words EACH.
The first classmate post is:
After I read this story about the blind man-Daniel Kish, I feel touched and amazed. There are two scientists named Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel showing the story of Kish. Daniel Kish is a blind man and owns the ability of clicking, which is the same ability that the bats have. Daniel Kish is also called the “Batman”. The main idea of the story is about how Daniel Kish challenges himself and do things what other people do not think the blind people can do. The scientists give two statements out, one is the influences of others’ expectation, the other one is self-expectation.
From the story of Daniel Kish and the relative research, the results show that expectations of others will influence a person’s behaviors and thoughts. Meanwhile, Daniel Kish also shows that self-expectation can also affect one’ behaviors. He as a blind man, he learnt to ride the bicycle and feel things by clicking. Before or during the time he did that, people tend to question that “the blind men cannot do that”. However, Kish not only challenges himself, but also he does what he wants and loves to do.
He’s story and achievement is significant to other blind people and also normal people. Because we all know normal people have a thought that there are many limited things that the blind men can do. That’s the expectation of others to blind people. Their disability of sight makes normal people think they need to be protected, especially their parents. Kish also mentions about this, he thinks love can be an obstacle on the way of blind men’s self-challenge. Nevertheless, Daniel Kish keeps doing the things he wants to do even though he faces suspicion or kind suggestions. He also trained some blind people by using his ways which is not really like the methods in some organizations for blind people. He wants to arise other blind and normal people’s awareness that the blind people can do what they really want to do, although they might get hurt.
The story of Daniel Kish reminds me of a documentary from VICE news program I watched a few months ago. It is not the exact story as Kish’s, however I have similar feelings and thoughts. In Japan, now there are some institutes provide sex service to people with disabilities. People who provide services are trained and the service is by hand. A person who is interviewed has disease, he cannot talk clear (I forgot the disease he got). He and the workers from the institute say that normal people tend to think that people with disabilities have no desire of sex. Even their families just ignore or do not think about that. But the fact is, people with disabilities still have the same desire of sex as normal people.
When we see those people who with physical or mental disabilities, we are more likely to put our expectations and set limitations to them. And we are easy to ignore what they really need. They have disabilities, but it doesn’t mean they need protection for everything. As Kish says, people can give up, but he still can challenge himself for other things. They are blind but are not dead, they can walk by themselves; they can do many things as others can.
The second classmate is
The “Batman” podcast about blindness is a mixed research-narrative. The mix in itself creates an argument, but also is openminded enough that it allows for thinking on the speaker’s behalf. The podcast begins with the story about how rats performed on tests in mazes regarding unconscious thoughts of the tester. The casual experiment showed that the rats who were believed to be smarter than others performed vastly better than the ‘unintelligent’ rats. This is to broaden the idea of how thinking can inhibit the capabilities of animals, which includes humans of course.
Daniel Kish is cited and used as a main detail to the argument of how blind people cannot meet their potential if other people’s ideas are standing in their way. In spite of the discouragements of his teacher and neighbors regarding echolocation, Daniel became able to see by using sound and eventually was able to ride a bicycle like every other child his age. He received much media attention with people who were fascinated by the tenacity of a blind man learning how to ride a bicycle. The podcast bluntly adds how this is much more offensive than most people realize. By mixing in numerous perspectives like Kish, his teacher, schools for the blind who treat children helplessly, and other blind people who dislike echolocation, it creates the dividing wall of the old beliefs regarding the blind as incapable of amounting to much. When it is cited about the blind boy Adam at Kish’s elementary school, it is to show how even at a young age the erroneous ideas about a blind person’s abilities is apparent. Adam was unable to avoid walking into walls, and gained a lot of negative attention for that. He was bullied, even by Kish, because everyone wanted him to know he was different and helpless. Later the podcast mentions how Robert Scott, a sociologist, wrote a book on the idea that ‘blindness is a social construction’. He interviewed many people to find that almost all of them were held back by the same idea: ‘blind people cannot do these things’. These ‘things’ are simple like letting a blind man work in a paint factory to climbing a tree. That negative thinking impacts anyone’s capabilities really, but it may affect those who are handicapped more so because they are indeed different from the average person. The isolation from negative expectations for blind people is nonexistant, but today schools are now more integrated in an attempt to get all children to grow in the same environment. This attempt at trying to teach children that everyone has equal potential for something leads no where. Children are still treated differently in schools, especially those who echolocate because it is not ‘socially acceptable’ (as one of Kish’s teachers complained to his mother).
The podcast makes a switch halfway through to the idea of Kish teaching young children how to echolocate and the science behind it to allieviate any doubt the listener has for echolocation. Even blind people are still seeing when they use echolocation. The piece about Lore Thaler and her research on the sight of echolocation demonstrate that the brain constructs an image almost the same way as someone uses their sight. This piece of research is evidence that the idea of helpless handicaps is incorrect (in more than one way). The black and white sources used in the podcast are supposed to complicate the story of how blind people are much more capable than anyone can imagine. Any of the references who stated that blind people cannot do certain things throws off the listener, making this a more of a moral debate than factual. The idea of ‘who are we to say someone cannot do something’ is the actual question of the podcast. It is not ‘can blind people do x, y, and z?’. Of course people are going to hold back those who are handicapped in some way or another. It is not out of hate or fear of the difference someone has, but it is about fearing the harm that is apparently inevitable to someone who is blind. There is a reference to Brian Bushwig teaching a five-year-old echolocation, and his godmother who pulls the child away from the street. This is the point about how love can inhibit the learning of handicapped children. It is not wrong to want to keep someone safe and away from suffering, but sometimes that idea is what can stop someone from reaching their potential. This podcast may begin as a question of can blind people ride bicycles or walk in the woods, but the main findings of the podcast evolves into if you are brave enough to rise against the odds and not be held back by expectations or handicaps, you can do anything.
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