Writing and the Imagination

This week I’m taking Harford County Public School’s Methods of Teaching Reading course for professional development.  For most, this mandatory course is a drag and, undeniably, the 40-hour course does rob a teacher of much deserved personal time in the summer.  But given the motivation to learn, I would argue this course is actually turning out to be quite worthwhile.

For my teacher friends in particular, here are two particularly insightful quotes from an article we read.  From Stimulating reluctant writers by Ian Thompson:

(1) “…the process of composition begins as a social and cultural activity….The child’s mastering of writing is integral to the movement from interpersonal social interaction to the intrapersonal development of abstract thought.  This development takes place initially through play (imagination) and finally through the conscious thought required for writing….A child’s greatest achievements are possible in play, achievements that will tomorrow become his basic level of real action and morality.”

In plainspeak: Social interaction and play –> development of higher level thinking –> writing

Teachers need to recognize that imaginative exercises are the first step in the developmental process that gets a student to start writing.  What an incredible power there is to be found in childish recreational and the creative activity of man!  

(2) I made a quote poster of this one.  I’m sure everyone can relate.

Not the most comforting words but certainly true.  Be encouraged!  If we are willing to work hard and persevere, it is through our failures and frustrations that we grow.


Protecting What’s Important

About a month ago I was making a turn in a parking lot when I hit a traffic cone. It bent my front license plate and scratched the hood of the car.  The incident had me frazzled for a good portion of the day.

I wasn’t frustrated by my incompetence, because I should have seen the object, and I wasn’t embarrassed to admit that I had hit a stationary object.  I wasn’t even upset about the pending expenses to fix the damage.  What made me upset was that any damage occurred at all.  Consider that my car is brand new, purchased from the dealership only about 8 months ago.  As a result, I try to take especially good care of it.

Similarly, when my grandparents gave me a handmade quilt, I made sure never to pull on it or else I might tear a seam.  When I got a new video game system, I took care not to eject a disc too soon for fear that I might scratch it.  When I got a new laptop I ensured that it was always carried by two hands and stored on a flat surface.  When my back was injured, I protected myself by always lifting from the legs.

The list might go on and on.  These are all examples of protecting something that I value.  And when that special item gets damaged, I naturally get upset.  We all have those things that we value; in fact, you probably had something “important” come to mind just from reading the title of this entry.  We show extra attention to them, protect them, and, in the interest of preserving the object(s), sometimes even hide them.

What I find amazing, then, is how the gospel contradicts this inherent rule and sets itself apart from things valued in the world.  Rather than hoarding its truths and keeping its power for ourselves, the natural behavior is to share this thing with others.  The very act of evangelism is a sign that something is valuable but it is not to be observed on the same plane as everything else.  The gospel far exceeds all the material riches and physical blessings of this world.  So what do you value?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)