Teaching Methodologies and Archival Material

Teacher working with her students in the geography classroom of the Perkins Kindergarten for the Blind, circa 1893.

Teacher working with her students in the geography classroom of the Perkins Kindergarten for the Blind, circa 1893.

August 20, 2014

In response to an inquiry about material related to teaching methodology in the Perkins Archives, Charlotte Cushman provided the following information, which was updated on August 20, 2014.

Recently, I have seen the Perkins postcard exhibit on Flickr and I find it really interesting. However, as a teacher I am wondering if there are other items in the Perkins archives regarding teaching methodology?

I'm glad you looked at our collections on Flickr. We have added curriculum related collections on geography, reading and writing, physical education, manual arts and vocational training and the Kindergarten. We continue to add to our collection related to Students with Deafblindness at Perkins. Deafblind pupils include Laura Bridgman, Thomas Stringer, Tad Chapman, and Carmela Otero. We have expanded upon the Helen Keller collection with albums of her travels to the middle east which includes color photographs and with a collection showing the writing systems for the blind that she used. We also have digitized a Pamphlet containing testimonials about the benefits of braille titled "Opinions of Blind Teachers and Pupils in Regard to the Braille System", from 1866.

We hope that people will check back and see what we have added. We also hope that people will use the interactive features on Flickr to add missing information, such as identifying people who are unknown, or to help us to transcribe handwritten materials.

We have some fascinating items in our collection related to teaching methodology. Some of the most interesting items are the teachers' journals about students who are deafblind. The teacher journals of the deafblind department from 1841-1849 and 1888-1899 are now available on the Internet Archive. The internet Archive also recently digitized films in our collection that were made by Perkins from 1923 to 1985 which help show the evolving teaching methodologies over the years.

Is there any thought to posting more of this work?

We are hoping to scan and post more teachers' journals, and we are working with the Boston Public Library and the Digital Commonwealth to digitize more of our archival collection and post them online. A number of items from the Perkins archives are already available online on the Internet Archive and we will be adding more. In fact a 21-volume collection of Helen Keller Newspaper Notices is available on the Internet Archive. Two volumes of this collection rank as our top two most downloaded items on the Internet Archive. We are currently in the process of digitizing 46 annual reports from schools for the blind in the United States and Canada that includes volumes ranging from 1837 to 1944. We have also created a website for our archival material that includes links to all of our digital collections.

Are there methods that we still use today that were identified in the early years of education for individuals who are blind or deafblind?

Anne Sullivan believed in the importance of "child-centered education" and "teachable moments" and demonstrated their effectiveness long before these terms had been coined. Maria Montessori and Anne Sullivan admired each other's work, and in fact Maria Montessori credited Sullivan with using the “Montessori” method years before Montessori had developed it herself.