Thoughts From Miss Sullivan

I’m currently reading The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller. In this edition, letters are included at the end that Anne Sullivan, Helen’s “Teacher”, wrote about her progress. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this part of the book, and wanted to get some quotes down here I thought were especially noteworthy.

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think…Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experiences.

Whew. Thank goodness I don’t have to be sweet-voiced to teach my kids.:)

Since I have abandoned the idea of regular lessons, I find that Helen learns much faster. I am convinced that the time spent by the teacher in digging out of the child what she has put into him, for the sake of satisfying herself that it has taken root, is so much time thrown away. It’s much better I think, to assume that the child is doing his part, and that the seed you have sown will bear fruit in due time.

More to come later.

One Reply to “Thoughts From Miss Sullivan”

  1. I really enjoyed these 2 last posts. I have been fascinated by the story of Helen Keller since childhood, and it sounds like the book holds so much more than movies. I remember things I did as a new mother because the pediatrician said so or an author said so but that nearly broke my heart. I later knew my heart was right in screaming because *for that child* the method was completely wrong. Some of it was right for *another* child though. Most of my big and little early parenting and now parenting mistakes have ended up circling around until it is apparant that those things that seemed unnatural or wrong for the child really were. On the other side of course is that there are some things that aren’t obvious to the heart and do need to be learned through the experience of others. Yet when the mother’s heart is screaming out that something is wrong, it seems a pretty good indication that the issue needs to be looked into further to see why, and mama’s heart is probably right.

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