Illustration of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan

The Miracle Worker

by William Gibson

Start Free Trial

Using events from the account of Helen Keller's life, explain the impact that a child's behavior has on the learning process.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When Annie first arrives at the Kellers, Helen is out of control because she's never been taught discipline. She does as she pleases when she pleases because no one has never tried to discipline her. Now that Helen's older, the Kellers don't know what to do with their spoiled child. Annie's first job is to teach Helen to respond to discipline, or she'll never learn.

At first, it's very difficult for Annie because she and Helen are both extremely stubborn. Annie tries repeating over and over the behavior she wants Annie to copy, sometimes dragging Helen to get her to sit down or eat with a utensil. Then she tries the repetition of the hand symbols, hoping Helen will make the connection between the symbol and the actual object, but nothing works because of the Keller family's interference. It's only when Annie convinces the Kellers to let her take complete control over Helen that any progress in discipline is made.

Then Annie uses every method from repetition to force to get Annie to stay interested in learning. After two weeks, Helen and Annie go back to the main house, but Helen still hasn't made the connection. It comes at the end when in their last battle over spilled water, Helen is able to connect the symbol and the object.

This is why teachers insist on discipline in a classroom; without it, learning can't happen. It doesn't have to be boring, however. Annie has to learn how to keep Helen interested also.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team