Yesterday, I was in a reading lesson with my student of two plus years. We were working in a children’s primer and I suggested we read a story about Helen Keller. I asked Kathy if she knew who that person was and she shook her head and said she never heard of her. Always makes me pause when we come across things like this – so much of what I consider common knowledge isn’t the case for the disadvantaged. Reminds me never to assume anything and be grateful for my education and upbringing.
I suggested we read the text and find out who Helen Keller is together.
Kathy reads the first two lines. It went something like:
When Helen Keller was a child she got sick and as result became deaf and dumb. This cut her off from the world.
Kathy stopped reading and said, “That’s just like me and not being able to read. I was cut off from the world too. I don’t know if you knew that, Ginny, but it’s like being deaf and dumb when you can’t read.”
Of course, I’ve always known that –I’ve just been waiting for Kathy to realize it.
“And now?” I said.
“Now everything is different. You know the teacher sent me a note home from school the other day, and I could actually read it. For the first time ever I actually know what is going on at school. I’m not cut off from the world anymore. It’s amazing.”
“Amazing,” I parroted.
I keep thinking about that conversation. Amazing.