A Teacher Writes Living Epitaphs
I love words. I write almost every day, even if it’s only a ‘to-do’ list. Usually, it’s an article for my blog, which I tend as if it were a garden bed of plants and flowers. I never forget someone is reading my words, and constructing their own meaning from them. Articulate, thoughtful communication is vitally important, especially in the smaller world we now inhabit. The internet is based on words, whether kind, helpful, hateful, or ridiculous, words drive it.
I taught my son through the fifth grade and was privileged to experience that feeling of awe when someone I taught actually read a word for the first time, and made meaning of it. It was Dr. Seuss’s ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. Once someone can read, the world is never the same again. Everything of light and dark, of good and evil, is there for the plucking. Anything a person needs or wants to know can be found in the written word, whether it’s ‘a tale told by an idiot’ or a tale told by someone they admire and respect. The books I read growing up, and the books I read today, have an influence over my life. People, whether fictional or not, who overcome great odds, or achieve great things, inspire and motivate us.
What follows after children learn to read is developing the capacity to be critically literate. An English teacher helps the students learn how to look deeper into a text; who is writing it, why are they writing it, what was going on in the world or the author’s life when they wrote it? Who benefits from the outcome of the text? Like looking at a Picasso, unless there is some preparation and education in art, does the observer see what the artist was trying to communicate? Or do they merely see a jigsaw puzzle, and dismis a painting that may have a significant impact on their life?Continued on the next page