How to heal hurt and teach kindness to children

Jun 05

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Wonderful advice for student writers!

Feb 05

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In defense of teaching good writing

Oct 27

            Good writing skills may not lead to our students becoming the wealthiest, but it will lead to the likelihood of them having freer minds.   A freer mind is a mind that judges and makes thought out decisions for each situation that arises.  A freer mind also can detect bad rhetoric and avoid being persuaded by the self-interested and self-promoting entertainers of today, who attempt to influence their audience with logic-devoid fear inducing propaganda.

            I look at what is going on with the healthcare issue and see the self appointed authoritative voices Astroturf supposed grass-roots movements and convince the very people who need affordable health care, into thinking that it is bad for them by masterfully hammering away with hot button words.   These self-only-interested entertainers mis-use and reinforce the misunderstanding of any words and any ideas that they choose. 

            I am of the opinion that good writing skills are some of the most powerful tools in enabling and building critical thinking in our children.  Today, many years after my composition training, I see how every essay that I’ve personally written has shaped my ideas and helped me to sharpen my thinking skills. 

            Writing is one of the hardest things for many to do, since it requires the writer to sharply hone in on what he or she is thinking in order that his or her thoughts are put on paper clearly for the reader, and that is an uncomfortable and unnatural thing for most to do.  Fuzzy thinking cannot exist simultaneously with clarity of expression of thoughts and ideas.

            The process of learning how to gain good writing skills offers students an opportunity to become even smarter.  Janet Emig the author of an essay ”Writing As a Mode Of Learning” claims that, “If the most efficacious learning occurs when learning is reinforced, then writing through its inherent reinforcing cycle involving hand, eye, and brain marks a uniquely powerful multirepresentational mode for learning.”  This reminds me of what a master educator had once told me.  She explained that a person who learns something seven different ways has almost no chance of forgetting that which they learned.  Who is to say how many more modes of learning is actually taking place while they are seeing, doing and reinforcing.  I think the scientists of Brain Plasticity would agree with Janet Emig’s theory.

             Going back to my argument that our children need to develop their critical minds…  The alternative will avail our children to a life that is not “fair and balanced.”  Without critical thinking citizens, we cannot hope to have a truly healthy society.  Today the fear mongers are powerful and are very good at manipulating the innocent minds of good-hearted folks.  We must be sure to guide our children/students to become a generation that is optimally educated, powerful critical thinkers who will not be pushed around by the loud and obnoxious soul-less voices.

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