I’ve come to realize the value of literacy. It’s a miracle to me, actually—to have the ability to read words on a page (by putting the graphemes and other linguistic cues together), to generate meaning from these words and to understand them, to associate personal experience with those recorded by the author and to synthesize these thoughts, and then to document them (by writing these thoughts down), which then provides an opportunity for others to read, generate, understand, associate, synthesize, and document…The literacy cycle begins all over again.
I remember trying to project this idea on my ESL students enrolled in the advanced writing course I was teaching in an effort to help them look beyond the mentality that what they were doing was more than completing a homework assignment. Rather, they were engaged in the meaningful task of effectively documenting their synthesized thoughts. And to be able to do that is significant. Luckily, they grasped this concept, and it changed the way they approached the task of writing (which is often a monumental one for ESL students).
We won’t all be published authors in our lifetime, exposing our thoughts in writing to the “world,” nor do we all aspire to be such. But we all have a mind (and some of us, the will) to project our thoughts and experiences, generated from others’ documented thoughts and experiences, in our own writing, whether it be in formal or informal writing. I learned this when I read the thoughts informally inscribed on the inside front cover of a used book by its original owner in 1931. This is what it said:
I hope this book will serve to give you a few hours of happiness, in lieu of a real Christmas present, which I do not seem able to get now, owing to sore-footedness and some discouragement from being a bit down physically.
I am sure you have dreamed and do dream of such wild guests as that so beautifully described in this interesting chronicle. I do, and will continue to, so long as the red blood of virile interests continues to abide in me. However, to most of us are given only the every day kind of adventures incident to our jobs, in which we must find our joy, serve our God and our fellows, and strive to so deport ourselves that when the great adventures come to us, we shall be hard and fit for their grist.
I like that part: “…to most of us are given only the every day kind of adventures incident to our jobs, in which we must find our joy, serve our God and our fellows, and strive to so deport ourselves that when the great adventures come to us, we shall be hard and fit for their grist.” I realize that it is the way we respond to our every day adventures, which come through every day living, that prepares us for “the great adventures [that] come to us.” And sometimes the greatest adventures we experience come in the form of the adventures associated with every day living. For some of us, our “great adventures” are manifested through every day life.
There it is: the cycle of literacy. The words of the published author influenced the thoughts of “Weston,” who then documented his thoughts on the inside front cover of the book, whose words stimulated me to document my thoughts as a result of reading his words…
Again, I realize the value of literacy—that we can read words, generate meaning (both on a general and a personal level) and document these thoughts conveyed through writing, which stimulates the cycle of literacy again. That’s significant.
I’m sure Weston, the author of this inscription, did not know that his words would be read and synthesized 76 years later. That’s the value of literacy.