Writing the Author

I suspect the real reason I’m writing this post now is procrastination. But in small doses, it’s probably healthy.

In all seriousness, I am coming near the end of my sojourn in collecting articles for our EDLP 716 literature review. I came across an article written in 1999 by a teacher at a school in Indiana. The article moved me; it was organized around vignettes of what this teacher’s experience was like, teaching seniors, using a senior project model. The vignettes were palpable and real, and as an educator, I thought they were very believable. But I am not exactly sure why the article hit an emotional nerve with me, except that it reminded me of why I’ve valued coming to the field of education.

Being an educator was not always my plan. Growing up, I thought secret agent would make a good career. Maybe a pilot. Then I had an intense musical experience during my last year of high school, and that’s when I decided I wanted to become a conductor. Sometimes, today, I think maybe I’d like to be a chef. A professional photographer? And I do love to write. The good thing is, I’ve experienced a little bit from all of those “professions” through my years, in addition to becoming an educator. I recently wrote elsewhere about my “second best day,” but it was this article I read tonight, that brought me back to the classroom experience for real. The tales the author weaved in an effort to sell us on the adventure of doing a senior project with students was so well-written, that you either wanted to be in her class, or to take over from her, as the teacher. The article was the epitome of engaging prose. It reminded me that I was glad to have found a career in education.

Which is why I Googled the author. She’s still listed on the same school’s website as a faculty member. Bingo, I fired up my e-mail program and started typing.

We know today that with blogs we can comment on what other people write. In social networks, commenting is the norm. It’s a convention, and it’s commonplace. But what about people who write “real things,” like magazine articles? Academic papers? Or, heaven forbid, a dissertation? You can write them, too. It might take more effort, but my advice would be to go for it.

1. If the person is too busy, they can ignore it.
2. If you’re complimentary of their writing/work/research, I’m sure they’d love to hear it. Especially if it’s helpful to you.
3. If you’re critical of what they’ve written, I’m sure they’d prefer it to be communicated privately via e-mail rather than publicly in the open, at least to start.
4. Just because the media may be disconnected by type (digital vs. printed page), or by time (a month, a year, or a decade), it doesn’t mean the ideas that gave life to the writing have died. We may never know why a person wrote what they did, and why they chose to try and publish their ideas, but we can believe that they did it to help others. And if you believe that, and that person has helped you, I am confident they would only derive pleasure from knowing they were ultimately successful (even though the thirst for that pleasure may never have entered their mind).

My digital highlighter and a graphic organizer await.

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