The Impossible Takes a Little Longer: presented April 15, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia | Summary and Q&A

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September 7, 2016
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Harvard University
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The Impossible Takes a Little Longer: presented April 15, 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

TL;DR

In an inspiring story of an impossible triumph in education, Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, and Annie Sullivan showcase the practical value of curiosity-driven research and the importance of self-generated questioning and thinking.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How did Alexander Graham Bell become involved in the education of the deaf?

Alexander Graham Bell became involved in the education of the deaf because both his mother and his wife were deaf, and his family had a history of teaching speech to the deaf. He founded his own school in Boston and devoted many years to the education of the deaf.

Q: What was Annie Sullivan's role in Helen Keller's education?

Annie Sullivan was Helen Keller's teacher, and she played a crucial role in empowering Helen through language. Despite having no teaching experience and suffering from the effects of trauma, Sullivan was able to teach Helen to read, write, and communicate through her innovative approach of spelling idiomatic English into Helen's hand.

Q: Why is curiosity-driven research important in science?

Curiosity-driven research allows scientists to discover new knowledge and understand the vocabulary and grammar of nature. It enables them to decipher messages left by nature and read the answers that nature is willing to give. It is a practical and essential investment that yields ideas and understanding.

Q: How is science education often at odds with the exploratory character of research?

Science education, particularly in introductory courses, often presents a frozen body of dogma, with a focus on finding one right answer through a correct procedure. This approach inhibits students and restricts personal innovative experiences. Instead, science education should encourage personal freedom, innovative thinking, and a focus on asking interesting questions and offering fresh perspectives.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • This content explores the story of an impossible educational triumph achieved by Alexander Graham Bell, Helen Keller, and Annie Sullivan, emphasizing the practical value of curiosity-driven research and the interconnection between science and the humanities.

  • The story showcases the role of Annie Sullivan in empowering Helen Keller through language, highlighting the importance of self-generated questioning and thinking in education.

  • The content also argues for the inclusion of curiosity-driven research and an exploratory approach in science education, as well as the recognition of science as a social enterprise.

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