Sophomores in Mrs. Aron’s class welcomed Michelle Friedman (’75), who recently published a children’s book, Close Your Eyes, about a girl who is blind. Since its publication more than a year ago, Michelle has been frequently speaking to groups of students and children around the Chicagoland area.
Sophomore students are reading All the Light We Cannot See, a novel set during WWII where one of the main characters in the novel is a blind French girl. Mrs. Friedman blindfolded students and had them navigate around the school (with a sighted buddy to ensure safety) and then report their impressions to the class. In addition, other students were blindfolded in the classroom and had to identify a series of sounds and smells. In this way, Mrs. Friedman helped students understand some of the emotions that unsighted people may experience: frustration, fear, uncertainty, spatial displacement and in one case, derision from others.
But as students learned from the book and as Mrs. Friedman said, “Closing one’s eyes is not the same as experiencing blindness.” The reason, students were quick to understand, is that they retained the power to open their eyes.
Students agreed they had a new empathy for the character in the novel as they learned how Mrs. Friedman navigates the world.
Mrs. Arons then assigned a writing prompt where students had to select an object and describe it without using visual cues. They then had to write a short narrative where the object assumes both literal and figurative meaning.