I can’t find any evidence that The Whisper Test is an actual published book, but this purported story from it (which I received in an e-mail) is an outstanding reminder of the power that a few kind words can have on a child.
The author, Mary Ann Bird, was born with multiple birth defects: deaf in one ear, a cleft palate, a disfigured face, a crooked nose and lopsided feet. As a child, she dreaded other children staring at her and asking the embarrassing question: “What happened to your lip?” ”I cut it on a piece of glass,” she would lie.
Each year the children had their hearing tested at school. The classroom teacher would call each child to the front desk and have the child cover first one ear, and then the other. The teacher would then whisper some simple phrase to the child, such as, “The sky is blue” or “You have new shoes.” This was the whisper test. If the child could repeat the phrase, then their hearing was apparently fine and they passed the test. To avoid humiliation, Mary Ann always cheated on the test, casually cupping her hand over her one good ear so that she could hear what the teacher said.
One year, Mary Ann’s classroom teacher was Miss Leonard, one of the most loved and popular teachers in the school. She exuded gentleness and loved the children deeply. When the time came for Mary Ann’s hearing test, Mary Ann cupped her hand over her good ear as she had done so many times before and strained to hear what Miss Leonard would whisper. “I waited for those words,” Mary Ann wrote, “that God must have put into her mouth; those seven words that changed my life.” Miss Leonard did not say, “The sky is blue” or “You have new shoes.” She whispered, “I wish you were my little girl.” And those seven positive, powerful words became a watershed moment in Mary Ann Bird’s life.
Nothing really changed for Mary Ann Bird. She remained disfigured and deaf in one ear and the object of her classmates’ painful ridicule. But everything changed for Mary Ann Bird. She began to see that her classmates’ judgments were neither the only words about her nor the final words. She started to understand herself as loved and lovable and dared to envision a future not constrained by her circumstances but a future that could transcend them. Indeed, following in the footsteps of the teacher who set her free, Mary Ann Bird herself became an acclaimed teacher known for her compassion and kindness.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
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Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.