Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Loving Teaching Writing

I love words. I'm enthralled with the mystery of language - how the particular arrangement of a few sounds can produce ecstasy, puzzlement, laughter, or a life-changing insight. I'm also saddened by the fact that so many people don't realize that their words can produce death - loss of joy, confusion, death of a dream, solitude, despair. Proverbs says that "death and life are in the power of the tongue." (I need to always remember that, especially when interacting with children and young folks. )The power of words is also part of the challenge and joy of writing.

Last week I had the privilege of teaching a mini-writing refresher to a handful of high schoolers, and I was reminded of why I love this so much! Of course, the understood goal was that they would have a stronger grasp of the elements of good composition at the end of it, but the perk was that, along the way, some of them actually began to glimpse the possibility of enjoying the process! It is the coolest thing in the world to watch young men or women discover that ideas and feelings are "at their command", so to speak. Words become something more than air vibrations. It's humbling to be present when a student discovers his or her own voice in writing. For me, it's almost like assisting at the birth of child!

I hope each of you is able to take the time to notice the beauty in the spoken and written word at some point today. This is as important to our well-being as the beauty of the natural world is. If you have young children, find stories or poems that evoke delight and enjoy them with your children. Play word games; laugh at their puns. Learn a new word each week that has delightful sounds. (Beatrix Potter's books are excellent in this regard for little ones!) If they have a foundational love of language, growing into writing should be a delight for them.