Helen Keller’s account of her educational experience not only inspires people struggling with disabilities, but also opens the mind of readers about the transforming power of education. There are two main points in my response to Keller’s essay which is basically drawn from the way she has written it. The essay incites both an emotional and intellectual response. By using words pertaining to the awakening of her soul and the blossoming of hope in her, she is able to inspire readers to see disabilities not as a hindrance to becoming a complete person.
The way she describes the moment of learning reveal how much education has given her life and enabled her to see, hear and speak. I believe, however, that Keller’s essay is not only inspirational but also educational, thus eliciting an intellectual response from readers. As she narrates the way Sullivan imparted knowledge to her and equipped her with basic skills in reading, she also suggests a method of education that is unconventional. Through her experience, she demonstrates the possibility of teaching a disabled student like her.
She also describes a method of education that goes beyond the classroom and formal training, a method which will inspire a student to be an insatiable learner. Keller puts into writing the extraordinary experience she had with Sullivan and, stylistically, this is reflected in the paper. I am amazed with the great detail in which she narrates her thought, realizations and experiences. I kept wondering how she could have written a highly visual and at the same abstract essay without the capacity to see. Her words effectively capture the wonder of discovery and learning.
They also reflect the great imagination which Keller has developed through the years. Reading the essay alone, with the knowledge of her disability, is already inspiring. But it is the story of her transformation itself which inspires most of all, people with disabilities like her. She taps a common ground among disabled people by describing herself as one in need of help and direction. People like Anne Sullivan brings hope that it is not impossible to teach a disabled person and that one can still be complete even without their sense of sight or hearing.
Keller’s story also inspires people who are not suffering from disability by saying in her conclusion that any student can be an eager learner if only he is guided in the right direction and given the encouragement to learn in spite of any challenge he might face in the process. The second point which I have realized in reading Keller’s essay is related to the intellectual response she elicits in the text. It is quite obvious that Keller does not aim to merely narrate her experience. By detailing the methods of Sullivan’s teaching, Keller is suggesting a different mode of teaching which gave her the success in learning.
Sullivan’s methods are unconventional. They reflect her ingenuity and creativity. Keller is able to meet the odds because of Sullivan’s guidance. Repetition, finger play, word association are among the many things that Sullivan applied in teaching Keller. I definitely agree with Keller that her teacher’s methods work and that they should be applied to the practice of teaching. Keller’s essay alone is enough proof that Sullivan succeeded. The mere fact that Keller can write beautifully, with great detail, despite her lack of sight, demonstrates the quantum leap in learning which she has achieved through Sullivan’s guidance.
This text has inspired and informed me as a student, and I can relate to it as much as anybody who values learning. Keller’s story inspires me to be a more passionate learner and take advantage of the physical privileges that I have. It also enlightens me on the myriad ways an individual learns if only creativity, generosity and grace are applied to the methods.
Reference: Keller, H (1998). The Most Important Day of My Life. In Marjorie Ford and John Ford (Eds. ), Learning Dynamics (pp. 8-14). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.