“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember,
involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin.
As an educator and now a writer, those words carry a lot of meaning for me, in the context of the interaction between teacher and student and the between writer and reader. Making the process work is not an easy process (and nothing worthwhile usually is) its rewards are lofty and worth seeking. Writing and teaching are life-long learning processes. Once you forget that, both your readers and students suffer because you as a writer (or teacher) begin to lose that “…emotional being—the effervescence, the sparkle,” as Patricia Cornwell describes it, so essential to keeping connected to both reader and student.
A willingness to step outside your comfort zone (an essential ingredient to this process) cannot be ignored especially if you intend to have positive impact either in writing or in the classroom. That may mean either taking a course, or trying a different teaching tool or method in your usual presentation. My point is that as a shareholder in the learning process, the teacher can never lose sight of the fact that s/he is also a student in the process; any other way, in my opinion, leads to ineffectiveness. I believe the same holds true in writing for the author to have an effective and special connection with his/her fans. Students and readers are very insightful; their feedback is essential, often useful, and constructive. When there is no room for inclusion of opinions and contributions, the creative feedback inherent in both teaching and writing falters.
I would be naïve to even suggest that it is an easy and comfortable process. It’s just the opposite. But, nevertheless, I would encourage it. Why? Because I have found that it kept me vibrant, informed and challenged; I aspired to be the best that I could be within my profession. A good attitude and a willingness to risk (dare I say) failure are key ingredients to success in everything.
The tools taught and learned in school set the solid base upon which everything else is built; it travels with you throughout life. That structure for the average person (and I’m not sure what that means) whether strong, mediocre or weak ultimately resides in their attitude to learning and their choices to master those tools.
What is so great about our brain is its elasticity; its ability to learn and apply new things. So, whatever your earlier choices, there’s still room for change; opportunity to find those missing parts to your own puzzle called life.
According to a study conducted by the Society of Education, India, “…writing is both more complex and more abstract than talk…” and “Writing, therefore, is not just putting pen to paper or writing down ideas but it is how these ideas are presented or expressed effectively.” I share these words with you because I don’t want anyone to become discouraged and give up. The research says writing is tough. As a teacher, I found students became easily discouraged with the ‘hard slugging’ necessary to master a subject. Excuses as to why they didn’t try (rather than the honest truth) were rampant. All I wanted to point out is that writing is hard work but your attitude is the key to your success. Treat your writing as a relationship—as if it’s one of your closest friends. Do not treat it like a job. Treat your characters with the respect and accord them the same respect that every living human being should expect and deserve. That’s my best teacher advice.
As for me, my choice to devote my time now to writing has led me down a path of revelation that is nothing short of miraculous. Thanks go out to the teachers, students, friends, family and books that have shaped my life; I couldn’t have done it without them.