Perhaps Anne Sullivan could be considered to be the finest teacher in the history of the world.  Without her, Helen Keller might have lived out her days as a grownup version of the wild, raging, stubborn six-year-old, existing in the equivalent of a dark, silent cave – – legally an “idiot.”  But aside from all Anne did to bring Helen’s brilliance to the world through love and intentionality, more importantly, she discovered and demonstrated great truths about children and learning.

It is affirming to me to see that her philosophy of “education” so perfectly matches my own insights.  Clear and simple, her words ring like a crystal bell in clean, fresh air:

“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education.  They seem to me to be built up on the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction…they will educate themselves under right conditions.”

She believed that children should have freedom of movement, while touching real objects to add to their understandings for themselves instead of following instructions  by teachers.

Maria Montessori, speaking on a stage in San Francisco with Helen and Anne Sullivan, said, as she pointed to Anne, “I have been called a pioneer, but there is your pioneer.”

Someday, and hopefully someday soon, we will totally transform the landscape of “education,” as children and adults alike go about educating themselves in a rich environment of carefully selected objects and activities in the presence of sympathetic and respectful guides.  And oh, how the world will begin to change for the better!

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