During this winter break, I spent some time reading. One of the books I read was a biography of Helen Keller. As many of you know, she lost her sight and hearing when she was only 19 months old. Through great effort and tremendous help from people surrounding her, including her parents and a dedicated teacher, Anne Sullivan, she learned language and ways to communicate. Despite three disabilities she received an education and even graduated top of the class from Radcliffe College of Harvard University. She spent all her life writing and traveling all over the world working to improve the lives of the disabled.
The part I particularly enjoyed reading was how Helen learned, or I should say how Miss Sullivan taught the word “love”, because of our school verse “We love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). It is not easy to teach abstract ideas to children who have 5 senses. It must have been truly challenging to teach a child who can’t see, hear, or talk.
It seems it didn’t come easily for Miss Sullivan either, but to make a long story short, she finally told Helen:
“You cannot touch the clouds, you know, but you feel the rain and know how glad the flowers and the thirsty earth are to have it after a hot day. You cannot touch love either, but you feel the sweetness that it pours into everything. Without love you would not be happy or want to play.”
These words were very powerful to me. We teach children how to write, read, count, and various academic skills and knowledge every day. As a Christian school we teach Bible stories and verses every day. But if children didn’t learn about love, especially God’s love, what is the point of having all these skills and knowledge? Even if you are a genius and have great knowledge and skills, if you didn’t have love to share those skills and knowledge to make it useful for yourself and others, your knowledge and skills are wasted. Even if you were extremely rich and wealthy, if you don’t have love for yourself and others, if you feel unloved and miserable, your great wealth worth nothing.
How can I teach my students what love is? I want to keep asking myself this questions each day as I am teaching day. How can you teach your child about love?