This week I have started reading The Story of My Life by Helen Keller. In the book, Helen calls her blindness and deafness a ‘dark prison.’ It was not until Ms. Annie Sullivan, Helen’s teacher, came that she was finally seeing light in her prison.
If you do not know the story of Helen Keller, she was a woman who had lost her sight and hearing at a young age due to an illness she contracted as a baby. Her teacher, Ms. Sullivan, arrived when she was five years old and taught her everything a seeing and hearing child would learn.
One of the first things Ms. Sullivan taught Helen was that everything had a name. Ms. Sullivan put Helen’s hand under a water spout and spelt out the word ‘W-A-T-E-R’ into her hand. Immediately, Helen realized that this cold, liquid thing that was in her hand was called ‘water.’ Ms. Sullivan continued to do this with toys, chairs, anything the two of them could find. This was the first escape from Helen’s prison.
After a while, Helen had learned every name of every piece of furniture and dish in the house. She understood the meanings of simple words, but not abstract words. One day, Ms. Sullivan spelled ‘T-H-I-N-K’ on Helen’s forehead. This obviously puzzled Helen, but being the ambitious and determined child she was, she tried to figure out the meaning of ‘think.’ Finally she realized that ‘think’ is the little voice in your head that tells you what to do.
Ms. Sullivan taught Helen how to sign, read with her fingers, and talk. When Helen was young, braille was not yet invented. The blind would read by dragging their fingers over raised letters on a piece of cardboard, which is what Helen would do to read with Ms. Sullivan’s help.
Ms. Sullivan was truly the key to unlock Helen’s dark prison. Without her help who knows what would have happened to Helen. But Helen’s success is not solely because of Ms. Sullivan. She was a stubborn young girl with the desire to learn about the world, all she needed was someone to be patient and teach her, and that is exactly what Ms. Sullivan did.
Thanks for reading!