Writing and Thinking About Writing

I enjoy reading many blogs.  I began a blog last year that spoke about my passion at the time, math.  The teaching and the attempt to understand student learning is still a passion but I have a different role this year in school and it has taken me in various directions.  I stopped blogging because I didn’t know where to go next.  I have spent too much time thinking and not enough time writing.  I have read some magnificent books lately and I am more involved in my “learning” as an educator this year then ever before but i has bothered me that I haven’t been blogging/writing.

In Writing to Learn, by William Zinsser, he says that “(w)riting organizes and clarifies our thoughts.  Writing is how we think our way into a subject and make it our own.  Writing enables u s to find out what we know-and what we don’t know-about whatever we’re trying to learn.” (pg.16)  For me this blog was/may still be about math, but I think I need to move towards what education is and what it can be to me.  The students I “learn” with fuel my fire to help change the landscape of education, so that it works in their favor, not anyone elses.   I have certain beliefs and ideas that are brewing inside of me that need clarification, discussion, and debate.  I will never be able to become a fully functional member of any educational team without spending time clarifying what I think and believe.  The way to do this, is to write.

So I will.

Everyone needs a mentor. This is part of what we do as educators.  Or what we should be doing.  A movie that I forgot about but just recently watched again in the midst of the current Nor’easter is Finding Forrester.  The plot (as referenced in wikipedia) is as follows:  Finding Forrester is the story of Jamal Wallace’s life in the rough world of the inner city. Although Jamal is intellectually gifted, he puts little effort into his schoolwork to avoid criticism from his friends. On a dare, he sneaks into a recluse’s apartment and, to his surprise, befriends the inhabitant. The man helps Jamal with his writing, in exchange for Jamal keeping a secret: the man is William Forrester, the secluded author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Avalon Landing, his only published book.

They befriend each other and mentor each other: one to reach his potential and the other to reclaim time lost.  In it the William tells Jamal to “punch the keys” on the typewriter.  I interpreted that to mean to write with passion and write from the heart.  I internalized that idea as speaking to the  thought that to be good great at anything, you need to have a passion/love for what you do.  If you want to reach into the minds of students, they need to know that you care about what you do and about them as well.  The passion and learning are going to be a natural part of what you do.  It will not be forced or fake.  It will never seem contrived.  It may be difficult at times and there may be more questions then answers but the love of learning will shine through.

So here is to writing more, to mentors who guide us and to the passion that makes it all go around.