Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lesson of Helen Keller

“My teacher is so near to me that I scarcely think of myself apart from her.
How much of my delight in all beautiful things is innate, and how much is due to her influence, I can never tell. I feel her being is inseparable from my own and that the footsteps of my life are hers”.

………………… Helen Keller in her book “The story of my Life”

Those of you who had heard the story of Helen Keller and the paradox about her relationship with Anne Sullivan would know that there was always a debate whether Helen Keller did or did not have mental retardation. Study of Helen’s life clearly indicates that as a young child she did have mental retardation--severe retardation. She groveled on the floor for her food, made animalistic sounds, tore her clothes off, wasn't toilet trained and apparently had no civilized attributes. In her own words she says that she was an animal. Then she met her teacher, Anne Sullivan.

The concept of educability implies change. The textbooks always write about the amazing feat of Anne Sullivan in teaching Helen Keller, deaf and blind, to read, write and communicate. It was thought of as a miracle; but the real miracle was not a divinely ordained event, but one of appropriate education and instruction in the face of unsurmountable odds. If there had been an educational plan for Helen’s instruction and an expectation that she would meet those objectives; there never would have been the miracle of Helen Keller. There would have just been 'the appropriate education of Helen Keller'. Anne Sullivan did not take on the responsibility of Helen Keller’s education because she expected her to go to a prestigious institution. She did it because she believed that every human being is entitled to an opportunity to learn and develop. The miracle then, was simply the changes brought about by appropriate instruction, which contrasted vividly against the best practices of the day. Helen was able to take advantage of the talents and confidence of an educator, and she was empowered to achieve through instruction.
Never before in history had a person who was deaf and blind been able to attend a university much less become a great writer, a famous personality, and impact and inspire so many with her life work.

This reminds me of the Bollywood movie “Black” and those of you who had watched it could see the parallel between Anne Sullivan and the role played by Amitabh Batchan as the teacher of a blind mute girl. (For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_(2005))

Teaching involves love and caring at the very core of the heart of the teacher. It is all the more important that when we are dealing with physically and mentally challenged children we need abundant love and patience.

Love to you all

4 comments :

  1. Teach all you can
    but teach from your heart
    so that you can be destined
    to achieve beyond achievement
    right from the start...

    Though the path aint straight
    for the teacher who's great
    surely shall he be welcomed
    at the heaven's gate

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  2. Great thought in verse.
    Thanks Niks for sharing.

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  3. I am sure after reading this we will surely remember a teacher who inspired us in someway, truely I did.

    Now-a-days we hear so many problems among teachers and students. Many debates are going on “ARE THE TEACHERS OK?”

    The relationship between a teacher and student became too worse.

    A teacher doesn’t bother about the student,
    and the student doesn’t respect the teacher.

    Is this because of
    Teachers or
    Students or
    Parents or
    Society?

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  4. Thanks Ramesh for the sharing. I had earlier posted another thought on the teacher-student relationship. The invocation at the beginning of Katha Upanishad is beautiful in defining this relationship.

    "OM! May Brahman protect us (the Guru and Sishya) both! May he give us both (enough) to enjoy! Efficiency may we both attain! Effective may our study prove! May we not hate (each other) at all!"

    ReplyDelete