People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved

stairs

A triumphal march, or halting and painful steps? Both have their beauty.

On March 3 in 1887 Annie Sullivan began to teach Helen Keller. At the time, Annie was 20, a new graduate of Perkins Institution school for the blind. Helen, though healthy and strong, was a wild, unhappy, deaf-blind six year old. Most of the information we have about Annie’s experiences with Helen come from her letters to Sophia Hopkins. Sophia was like a mother to Annie.

In December, 1887, appeared the first report of the Director of the Perkins Institution, which deals with Helen Keller. For this report Miss Sullivan prepared, in reluctant compliance with the request of Mr. Anagnos, an account of her work. This with the extracts from her letters, scattered through the report, is the first valid source of information about Helen Keller. Of this report Miss Sullivan wrote in a letter dated October 30, 1887:

Have you seen the paper I wrote for the “report”? Mr. Anagnos was delighted with it. He says Helen’s progress has been “a triumphal march from the beginning,” and he has many flattering things to say about her teacher. I think he is inclined to exaggerate; at all events, his language is too glowing, and simple facts are set forth in such a manner that they bewilder one. Doubtless the work of the past few months does seem like a triumphal march to him; but then people seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved.

from The Story of My Life
by Helen Keller, John Albert Macy, Annie Sullivan
image – extranoise

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4 Responses to “People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the most insignificant success is achieved”

  1. Daisy Says:

    I can connect with this statement. Helping my son develop the fine motor skills and the finger strength to learn to handle buttons, then discovering that he could only handle jeans that were already worn in… people take it for granted, but dressing this teen has been difficult.

  2. admin Says:

    I connected a lot with Annie Sullivan. She talks a lot about respect, but not in a grand way – she’s very hands-on, very matter-of-fact. I wonder what she’d think of today’s unschoolers?

  3. March Quote Snack News | Quote Snack Says:

    […] letters about Helen Keller first learning to spell. Annie Sullivan first met Helen Keller on March 3, 1887. We may think we live in a different world, and much has changed in 120 years, but Annie’s […]

  4. miss helen Says:

    […] …library of audio recordings of nearly …People seldom see the halting and painful steps by which the …He says Helen's progress has been a triumphal march from the beginning, and he has many flattering […]