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Snippet of The History Chicks: Helen Keller

From Audio: Helen Keller

station description Two women. Half the population. Several thousand years of history. About an hour.
The History Chicks
Duration: 06:13
In this snippet, The History Chicks describe Anne Sullivan's first few weeks with the six-year-old Helen Keller. Listen to all the ways she turned life into lessons.
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The History Chicks give us another super entertaining and informative episode, here documenting the life of Helen Keller, from her early upbringing to her lifelong companionship with Anne Sullivan, to her work as an activist and reformer. This snippet gives us a taste of how Sullivan first approached her new pupil, which included intensive repetition to break uncontrolled behavior patterns.
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and we're back. Let's talk about this. So March 3rd, Annie arrives at the Keller home. She gets busy right away with her studies with her. She does. She decides that the best way to proceed is to do the finger alphabet. I'm gonna put a link to the finger alphabet. It's the one in modern sign language, even where you spell the letters instead of certain signs for everything. It's a spelling, right? And it's a little changed from from back in those days, but it's functionally the same thing. Each letter has a in English, has a sign, right? And so she would hold out Helen's hand and make the sign into her hand, which seems awkward. But I suppose once you're used to it, it goes pretty quickly. I think that, yeah, when you watch, you can watch YouTube videos and we'll link up because we love you, too. Um, yeah, they do it very rapidly. So the first lesson she decided waas that she would spell out doll d o l l. And it was she was meant to trade off, you know, spelling and holding out the doll spelling doll given to the doll spelling doll holding out the doll. But Helen Keller freaked out that someone was taking the doll away and had one of her like so that was a failed experiment. So the next day it was C a k eight. And then we need some cake. She got the cake and ate it up really fast because she was afraid that she was going to take it away again. You know, like you took the doll, right? This case and she, like, shoved it in her head as fast as you know. Luckily, it was one piece of that. The whole cake. That would have been a much more spectacular lesson. So So a few days later, after Cem, other things had been done. She starts. She meant to spell out sowing card. She had taught Helen too. So on a little card already. This is four days after she got there. She was so delighted to have a new thing to learn. So she sewed the card, and then she spelled C A for card. See, A and Helen was like, there's gonna be cake, eh? So she was very excited. They wanted some cake and right down to where it. Waas. Oh, okay, So she has been connecting in a vague kind of way that when it starts with C A, there might be cake. Okay, that's kind of an interesting little interim breakthrough Days after she get with three months before Helen is seven. So she is a six year old child. She's making these connections and an iwas instructed by the people of Perkins not to coddle Helen, not to spoil her and just toe work her. And so that's what she's doing. And obviously, you know she's connecting on Day three. She's getting that. There's connection between the spelling and an item is pretty good. However, if you've ever seen any of the movies, this is one of the scenes. Do you remember about a week later from when he gets there? This famous breakfast battle royal we've all seen? There's the dinner table and Helen's walking around, helping herself from everybody's plates. Nobody's really regarding it. It's just have a rolls around that house. It's part of her being able to explore her world, and I don't know if it's free to be you and me land referent. When everyone's just a peaceful life, it's quieter this way. Let's not quiet. Didn't Yeah, breakfast. Annie Sullivan is She is putting her hand on my eggs. Really? Not at all comfortable with this. And she wants to stop this in the bud. And so she returns hell into her chair. And Helen has never had this happen to her before. This is not how breakfast goes. This is not how it goes. And so she starts to lose her mind, and Annie starts to lose her patients. And finally, after the mom and the dad was like, Oh, now, see, we always just do you all need to leave. I cannot handle this with all of you in here making excuses for her. And my goodness, did it take three hours off Helen throwing the spoon and he picking up the spoon and he putting her home in the chair. You will eat the eggs. We will spit the exit. And his face it is. I'm not entirely sure, but at one point, and I almost think this was the day she broke out. Annie Sullivan's to Franti. Yes, I believe you're right. This'll was the big the big day when all the wills got broken or whatever. And my goodness, everyone was exhausted and sweating. And, of course, the mom is pressed to the other side of the door with her tears weeping down the side of the door. And you know, the father has taken himself off to smoke or something outside. He's probably knocking back some whiskey outside everyone's. This is like the ultimate Cry it out right here. Yeah, and they can't. They can't stand it. But Andy Sullivan said, I cannot. If you don't bug out of this, I want to go home. They brought her there to do a job, what they were doing. He wasn't working, so let's change it around. So the family did agree that that was a good strategy. But they also agree that they couldn't witness six. It was hurting their hearts. So they came up with a plan. So eight days later, this is the only March 11th. You know already she's so much of the family. She's like dinner a little over a week. Yeah, that they decided. Okay, the honeymoon cottage where we lived when we were first married, when Helen was first born. We will take you there, and that's where you'll be and it's right next door. I mean, it's not like a track. It is right. It's like a garage sites building right next door to the house. Yeah, So they were off to the Garden house with a little boy named Percy to be their servants and stoke up the fire and, you know, fetch the meals and everything so Andy could concentrate on Helen. So Helen ignored the heck out of her teacher at first. Just sat there staring into space, doing nothing, reacting to nothing, refusing to touch her nothing. She was not very happy. But during this two week period that they were in this garden house, her behavior became almost unrecognizable. She's sitting there happily. She's been taught to knit. She's sitting there by the fireplace, and he's teaching her something. She's signing back a little bit. She's taken to patting herself on the arm as a new sign, and that means good job. She described it later. That was when I was doing a good job. She patted herself on the arm like good job. So just in two weeks she had so much to do. They went outside. They scored the garden they built things, they made things out of one. It was a good philosophy of just inserting education, secretly in isolation. It's like those emerging classes where they only speak to you in the foreign language. You have to pick it up. Palin was bright and she wanted to learn.
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