Helen Keller, Marva Collins and Brad Cohen


Helen Keller. She was always pictured in profile due to a protruding left eye.

Sometimes, it’s so puzzling how life presents itself. Even in the face of defeat, Helen Keller came out a victor. She wasn’t born deaf and blind, but at 19 months of age she contracted an illness called “an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain” which left her both deaf and blind, and also with an itty bitty ability to communicate. Helen proved to the world that you don’t need eyes to have vision, when she became a world famous speaker and author; an advocate for people with disabilities; a radical socialist and a birth control supporter. As an author, she published 12 books and several articles. Helen learnt to hear people’s speech. She would put her hands on their lips and read their speeches. She was also very sensitive to people’s movements . As a child, Helen would throw wild tantrums due to her inability to express herself. Some members of her family urged her parents to put her in an asylum, but Helen’s mother refuted the idea. Her parents searched tirelessly for someone who could help them with Helen. They searched for  hospitals that were capable of tackling Helen’s problem, but to no avail, until they found The Perkins institute for the blind. This institute sent a teacher to Helen, named Anne Sullivan, blind as a child, but later had series of operations on her eyes which let her see. Anne studied the techniques of the manual alphabet from Laura Bridgman. This helped her to significantly improve Helen Keller’s life. She taught Helen communication by spelling word into Helen’s fingers, using her hand. Anne, a strong willed woman, was the perfect match for Helen, as Helen too was strong willed and stubborn. Anne didn’t stop as Helen’s teacher, but went on to be her life companion and guide for as long as she lived. Anne died with Helen holding her hand. and when Helen died, she was buried beside Anne.


Keller with Anne Sullivan vacationing at Cape Cod in July 1888. #wiki#

lesson 1: You don’t need eyes to have vision

lesson 2: If Helen could write books and be all that she was without eyes, then i wonder what i could do and be with eyes.

lesson 3: The world needs teachers who are dedicated to their students, not just to the benefit they could get from it.

lesson 4: There is no limit to what you can possibly do, except the one you put for yourself

lesson 5: Education is key to changing the world

Marva Collins: As a teacher, Marva fought the Chicago public system at that time, because she thought it did no good to the black American children, but labeled them as disabled. As a result of this, she opened her own school named “Westside Preparatory School’ in her home. It was the dawn of breakthrough for the black- American children in her area. She taught them to remove the word “can’t” off their dictionaries; she taught them that they could be all they wanted to be if only they worked hard for it; she taught them that they are their most valuable asset. Her style of teaching was terrific;she used the Socratic system of education. This system challenged the logic of students as opposed to the Chicago public school system. Marva made a tremendous impact on these children that were labeled disabled. In less than a year, they could all read and all had outstanding results.


Marva Collins

lesson 1: Often times, Marva would tell her husband, ” i don’t know how, but we will find a way.”

lesson 2: Keep it going

lesson 3: Hold on to the will in you, even though everything seems lost

lesson 4: If you just persevere, you would be amazed in the end how things would turn out to be

Brad Cohen is a man living with tourette syndrome since he was 6 years old. Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by tics: involuntary, rapid, sudden movements or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way. The cause has not been established and as yet there is no cure.The most common first symptom is a facial tic, such as rapidly blinking eyes or twitches of the mouth. However, involuntary sounds, such as throat clearing and sniffing, or tics of the limbs may be the initial signs. For some, the disorder begins abruptly with multiple symptoms of movements and sounds (www.tourette.ca/learn.php). This incurred a stigma in Brad’s life, but did he let it win? if he did, we won’t be hearing about him today. Brad, as a child, always wanted to be like everyone else; he wanted to be accepted; he wanted his teachers to believe in him. His teachers would ask him to stand in front of the class and apologize to his classmates for making noises; take him to the principal’s office or worst still, kick him out of class if they can’t take it anymore. His mother, a huge advocate for him, would always lecture his teachers and principal of his disease. She did this to convince them that he was like every other kid, and he didn’t make those noises on purpose. He thought, “how can i possibly be successful in life, when school isn’t safe for me?.” and then one fateful day, his principal Mr Maya, asked him what he thought if they oriented the whole students about tourette syndrome. Brad affirmed to that and they both stood in front of the whole school and gave a lecture about tourette syndrome. When they were finished, Brad walked to his seat, and the whole school gave him a standing ovation, because now, they understand why he has been making all those noises. On that day, he realized the power of education; he realized what he wanted to be for the rest of his life, a teacher. When he graduated from high school, he went forth into college, and after that went to 25 different interviews, but was rejected due to his tourette syndrome, until the last one when he was hired  in Atlanta, Georgia, as a 2nd grade teacher. After his first year of teaching, he was selected as the teacher of the year for the state of Georgia. Brad has since then changed lives for the better.


Brad Cohen

lesson 1: No matter your challenge, don’t let it win

lesson 2: Never make excuses in life

lesson 3: If you have the right people surrounding you or in the right environment, success wont be far fetched. Therefore, surround yourself with positive people.

lesson 4: Passion is the drive to achievement. no passion, no achievement.

lesson 5: there would be rejection from people, but learn to have a positive attitude; persevere.

These three and many more that have won life’s challenges have one thing in common, PERSEVERANCE. Perseverance is a virtue we all must strive to have, because life will always tests us, and it’s only with this virtue called perseverance  that we can pass the tests thrown at us.

Want to know more about Brad Cohen? Check this link out:www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzuraH_wl4A

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2 thoughts on “Helen Keller, Marva Collins and Brad Cohen

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