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What's the story?
Helen Keller, blind and deaf from an illness she had as a toddler, is treated more as a pet than a child by her family. She has no knowledge or understanding, and just grabs whatever she wants and breaks whatever she doesn't want. Her parents hire Annie Sullivan, once blind herself, to be her teacher. Sullivan begins by teaching Helen basics, then how to use her hands to spell out the names things. Helen learns to imitate the finger-motions, but does not connect them to anything. She must first understand the concept of language. Sullivan tries various approaches, and after one chaotic meal, Sullivan grabs Helen and forces her to the pump, to fill the pitcher of water she knocked over. As Helen feels the water rush over one hand, Sullivan finger-spells "water" into the other. Suddenly, Helen understands. A word she heard as a baby comes back to her, and she knows that "w-a-t-e-r" spells water. She runs all over, asking for the names of everything. It's clear that Sullivan has opened the world to her.
Is it any good?
THE MIRACLE WORKER is an outstanding movie based on the true story of two of the great figures of American history, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy. Keep in mind that the title refers to Sullivan; when the playwright/screenwriter, William Gibson, is asked about "the movie about Helen Keller," he says, "If it were about her, it would be called `The Miracle Work-ee.'" Helen Keller was a woman of astonishing achievement, but all of it was made possible by her teacher.
This movie shows kids how people learn, and about the importance of language and the challenges of teaching children with disabilities. Discuss the different ways that the main characters felt about Helen and how that affected their ability to teach her.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how people learn, about the importance of language and the challenges of teaching children with disabilities. Discuss the different ways that the main characters felt about Helen and how that affected their ability to teach her. Why did Helen's father and brother think that she could not learn? Why did Annie Sullivan think that she could? Why was it hard for Helen's mother to help her? Why is it important to be taught by someone who believes in you?
For kids who love dramas
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