Lessons From THE Teacher

When one door of happiness closes, another opens. But often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.

Helen Keller is credited with that quote, which seems oddly ironic (being that she can’t actually “look so long” at anything). Her teacher, Anne, is a bit of a hero for me. Not surprisingly, she was overlooked most often (although she attracted the praise of Alexander Graham Bell).

Today I found out that she had troubling views on the state of education. They were troubling because they were voiced a century ago…and our education system still has the same problems!! Anne Sullivan laments about the natural curiosity of a child being snuffed out as they are trained to perform for grades. She mentions the success that she had with Helen, a deaf and blind child, was due largely in part to her allowing Helen to explore her interests rather than adopting a strict schedule of reading instruction at this time, and arithmetic at that time. Our system could stand to learn a thing or two from stubborn women in their twenties…Ahem!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about opportunity and how often it is just as confusing as the lack thereof. Currently there are too many options for what direction I can head with my life. I mean, those options become limited as I apply for jobs that are filled by others. Even when I consider travel I become confused. Where to go? Where to go?

I’m becoming interested in Puerto Rico after reading that Anne Sullivan spent several months there. She was interrupted by war, and said, “…alas, who remembers the battlefield of education?” Indeed! I feel like a recovering soldier in that sense: every once in a while, my PTSD rears its ugly head, and I want to curl up on the floor in the fetal position. I still get night sweats when I think of having my own classroom, but fortunately, I’m getting better! I hope to start volunteering soon. (I’m only prone to rocking and crying softly to myself when I think of the report cards and conferences my friends are preparing for as we speak).

So, anyway, Puerto Rico is appealing because of something Teacher said about it. She said they spent their days lying around in self-indulgence. Sigh. What I wouldn’t give for therapy in the form of a little umbrella and the sunshine?! I also had this amazing Puerto Rican student my first year teaching that spent her days telling me how beautiful I was. I mean, who wouldn’t recover after that?

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