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Bridgman, Laura: Early Education

Samuel Gridley Howe had multiple goals for his work with Laura Bridgman. On the one hand, he wanted to provide her with a thorough education. On the other hand, he hoped to use her as a means of revealing the process of human development and the true nature of humanity. Howe thought that because he could control much of Bridgman’s sensory input, he would be able to better understand how people learned language, developed religious sensibilities, and other characteristic human abilities….

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Keller, Helen — Story of My Life: Part 5

My studies the first year were French, German, History, English Composition and English Literature. In the French course we read some of the works of Corneille, Moliere, Racine, Alfred de Musset and Sainte-Beuve, and in the German those of Goethe and Schiller. We reviewed rapidly the whole period of history from the fall of the Roman Empire to the close of the eighteenth century, and studied critically Milton’s poems and the “Areopagitica.”

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Keller, Helen — Story of My Life: Part 4.

Helen Keller was devastated by the charges of plagiarism, and by Michael Anagnos’s efforts to distance himself from her. She went into a months-long depression, as recounted in this excerpt from her autobiography.

Keller also describes how she learned and how dependent she was on reading for knowledge of the outside world. Like many children, she found it hard to separate what she read from her own thoughts, and she drew heavily on her sources in her writing. Keller’s dependence on reading, moreover, reflected Sullivan’s realization that the best way to teach Keller idiomatic (everyday) English was to expose her to as many books as possible—even if she could not yet understand every word or phrase….

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Keller, Helen — Story of My Life: Part 3.

THE next important event in my life was my visit to Boston, in June, 1888. As if it were yesterday I remember the preparations, the departure with my teacher and my mother, the journey, and finally the arrival in Boston. How different this journey was from the one I had made to Baltimore two years before! I was no longer a restless, excitable little creature, requiring the attention of everybody on the train to keep me amused. I sat quietly beside Miss Sullivan, taking in with eager interest all that she told me about what she saw out of the car window: the beautiful Tennessee River, the great cotton fields, the hills and woods, and the crowds of laughing negroes at the stations, who waved to the people on the train and occasionally brought delicious candy and popcorn balls through the car….

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Keller, Helen — Story of My Life: Part 2

THE next important step in my education which I remember distinctly was learning to read. As soon as I could spell a few words my teacher gave me slips of cardboard on which were printed words in raised letters. I quickly learned that each printed word stood for an object, an act or a quality. I had a frame in which I could arrange the words so that they would make little sentences; but before I ever put sentences in the frame I used to make them with objects. I found the slips of paper which represented, for example, “doll,” “is,” “On,” “bed,” and placed each name on its object; then I put my doll on the bed with the words “is,” “on,” “bed” arranged beside the doll, thus making a sentence of the words, and, at the same time, carrying out the idea of the sentence with the things themselves….

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Keller, Helen — Story of My Life: Part 1

AS THE feat may seem almost incredible, it may be in order to say at the beginning that every word of this story as printed in THE JOURNAL has actually been written by Helen Keller herself — not dictated, but first written in “Braille” (raised points); then transferred to the typewriter by the wonderful girl herself; next read to her by her teacher by means of the fingers; corrected; then read again to her, and in the proof finally read to her once more.

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