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What In Limbo's Dance Happened To Writing?
Have you ever heard of the famous three R's? (Reading, Writing, and Math of course) Chances are most children haven't really heard of it because the world according to the United States believes that just reading is the best and only way to succeed in life. I believe and I know that this is a wish for trouble and it makes kids poorer as the ultimate consqeuence on learning and more importantly; living. However; we shouldn't kid overselves into thinking that reading is less important now. Reading is still important! Luara Bush's commitment of teaching children how to read is still a worthwhile cause that should be taken seriously. If I were to meet the first lady; I would shake her hands and thank her for a job well done thus far. The problem I have is that the message is blanking out the important elements that will enrich the child's horizons. I feel that the other two R's are being ignored. It's not too diffcult to understand why reading has become a hot button topic for people like Luara Bush. Reading has declined slowly over the years; particually when compared to the high rates of reading still present in Cuba (gulp!). These problems have created such thing as a seven percent drop in children's book sales. This is made even worse by the fact that the field of books is getting richer and richer year in and year out. Harry Potter is the biggest example of how this can be turned around. However; Harry Potter is a series of books competing in a world that embraces the the image and the screen like television, video games and computers. (and yes; I'm guilty on all counts here!) Little do we know or even care (shudder) that these devices are keeping us from the very benefits of reading and further benefits beyond the scope of reading itself. Even worse is the fact that Harry Potter has fallen victim to commericalization. Even yours turely has fallen for it and continues to fall for it every single time. Still; that hasn't stopped groups from creating such government and non-governmental foundations and programs such as the recent five billion dollar "Reading First Initiative" released by the president and the first lady. While this is another good step; it just isn't enough. Part of the blame is that we have been teaching the art of reading as a forceful skill that we need on a narrow scope (getting a hard working job which is a false value in itself). In the attempt to make children read; we have completely lost sight on the absolute joy that reading provides and the fact that it expands well beyond that narrow scope that has become nothing more than a barrier for children. In other words; children don't want to read even if they know how to (and ultimately they ignore that skill to the point of actually losing it). They see it as a chore rather than something they want to do.
And this is where writing comes into play; this second "R" that I believe has been ignored by the masses. To understand the importance of writing. I'm going to let you in on a part of my past. A flashback to my high school days when I was a math wizard with average to above average reading skills. Math was a subject that I could never let go of (it was for your information; one of the three "R"'s.) I would watch Square One when public television was at its peak. However; this paradise that I was falsely living in had one small problem; and one that would plague me for quite awhile. I couldn't write very well. I had trouble writing in complete statement and I couldn't write actual details or even emotions. Now for these editorial; this type of striaght-forwardness would be all right for you; judging by your feedback on my previous editorial content. However; these were my teachers that I am talking about and they demanded detail or else. Writing assignments in school were a nightmare to say the least. It would take me about three hours to write something in gory detail that would now only take me about a half hour, one hour tops and I would get little to show for it. I barely passed Grade 9 english and it was enough to make me sob. It was so shameful. Then in Grade 11; it was 1993, the year that I got back to seeing TaleSpin and seeing it for what it is: A balanced animated show. It was my 11th grade english class where one statement from my grade 11 teacher (Sadly; for this person, due to my violent fits last year; I have lost the memory of the name who changed my life around and I'm sorry for that.) that I was in fact a great writer. A simple writer. Okay; I know that a lot of you people were thinking that it was TaleSpin that got me into writing. Wouldn't that be a reason to embrace the electronic screen now wouldn't it?! You wish! That statement changed my preception about the importance of writing. To me, now that I think back at that moment, that teacher got it! When I was in his class; writing was on the top of his list for his students and of course me. I was known at the time as the best writer in my class. I rarely wrote incomplete statements or run-off statements. I remember one assignment where I made only two mistakes on the entire work that was about two pages long while my classmates had five times as many mistakes in comparison. (For your information; those mistakes were spelling mistakes. I know Kit's no help with that! Just kidding! Spelling was on top of the list in Grade 12.) I realized very quickly that writing was in fact very fun and that I was in the past taking it too seriously. This is the only thing other than my job that keeps me sane as a single person in life and being only 25 years old. This is the reason why writing should be back onto the heap (and add a dash of math for good measure; my math skills went down a little bit after Grade 11. Still the risk was worthwhile to me.). We should do it because writing is fun! Sure there are thousands of book waiting to be read and that families should read to their children. However; you should know that writing is a form of expression that reading can help but not create on its own. Consider the following:
* Television shows, Movies, Music and even the electronic video game to a lesser extent (which is growing as videogame techology and gameplay are growing as well) are created through written scripts (or storyboards in some trades). Never forget the brave men and women behind the "Story By:" or "Written By:" credits. Despite the fact that they are written in play format; you still need a good writer to express those feeling. By the way; so-called "Reality TV" still requires a written script. They are just too cheap to buy actors.
* Next to public speaking and casual speaking; writing is the cheapest form of expression; and unlike speaking there is less of a chance that the words will be taken out of context. It would put television to its rightful shame.
* Here's something else to consider: The greatest leaders of our time in the world write their own speeches and speak them from either memory or just plain striaght from the heart. Just think about it; if Ralph Nader, George Walker Bush or Al Gore actually wrote their own speeches and spoke from their hearts rather than from special interest groups; then maybe there would be a clear winner in the 2000 Presidental race. Prehaps Ralph Nader would become president. (My dreams of course) Maybe we could save billions of dollars, time and resources if our policital figures actually did this like writing is supposed to be done and avoided the slient chaos that existed in 2000. The world will never know nor care.
There are countless examples on the benefits of writing in all its forms: editorial, rant, opinion, poem, short story, novel, play, essay and the list goes on. I just feel that shows like TaleSpin and books like Harry Potter would never exist without writers like J.K. Rowlings, Libby Hinson, Mark Zaslove and countless others. These storytellers (in their various mediums) are sending another message that Ms. Bush is not sending. That writing is as important as reading and it is twice as much fun. A memo to Ms. Bush: Don't think for one moment that it all ends with every child in America reading.
The journey to pure learning and ultimately living as Kit has now found out with his new family; has only begun. That's my opinion. I welcome yours. See you next time.
(2015 Gregory Weagle: I'm not changing anything here; this is all dead on as an editorial.)
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