Teaching English Language Arts is about incrementally mastering the use of language in developmentally appropriate chunks so students can learn to order the chaos of their busy minds and share their thoughts with others. Few will study literature and language in college and even fewer will be come writers. Yet, the ability to read thoughtfully and communicate effectively is every bit as necessary as science, technology, and mathematics—and, arguably more necessary.
Without writers who can put the concepts into plain English, few people would understand the Grand Unifying Theory, which is expressed in mathematics, or the engineering behind moving a packet of data from our home computer to some one else’s device.
How do we get there? How do we help our students achieve mastery? We use the curriculum frameworks like music teachers use scales, arpeggios, and etudes which is to say the scaffolding of mastery without effort, not the true purpose.
What’s purpose? To give shape to thoughts and ideas and feelings. To convey information and manifest experiences for our readers.
When I write, I feel like a fully integrated human being. Time slows, I hear every sound. I feel the world around me,. And, (for brief moments) synchronize with the heartbeat of the universe. I am able to
Writing facilitates intimate contact without ever touching physically. Like magic spells it allows me to alter reality by focusing energy from my mind through a keyboard, to the electronic page, and on to a final destination.New neural connections open, mental associations as heavily laden as icebergs bob on the surface of my consciousness. Intention and random thought jostle and weave in and out of a seemingly unconnected narrative until thoughts transform into sounds and letters, which become words and sentences and paragraphs and blend into a final shape for readers, who in their turn to decode and deconstruct to create their own meaning.
Writing when approached this way, transforms every day chores like this short answer questions for job applications into opportunities to spelunk my mind and return with the elements I imagine will touch decisions makers.I have many companions as I wriggle my way through the long forgotten passages of my mind. Fear and doubt thrive in that darkness and crawl ahead of and behind invention and completion.
For many years, angst over that struggle occupied much of my mind as I wrote answers and essays and papers for teachers, articles for magazines and newspapers, copy for client’s web sites, cover letters, and the early drafts of the novel sitting on my desk. I have learned that worry about and fighting with fear and doubt undermines the process.
Fear and doubt are are not enemies. They are protectors of my sense of self and my teachers. Now I share control and listen attentively to their messages and in so doing have learned to open my mind to see the self and the world as it is, not as my mental models would have.
When the truth emerges from the background noise, the words come; each inner voice learns to fulfill its purpose, and thoughts flow from my mind to others.