Hello, and welcome. I would like to present to you an essay, Me in a Nutshell.
My educational journey began in the early forms of school. As I seek support for pursuing a research-based degree in literacy, I am certain it may not sound well, sharing that, growing up, I had a stern distaste for both reading and writing.
It was not until I was nineteen (1988) that I would pick up a book, which would result in a ship full astern change in the direction of my attitude toward literacy.
I purchased, The Autobiography of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and ended up spending the next two years examining the first thirty-three pages.
Although this may not sound like much, I assure you that Dr. King referred me to over twenty-five additional authors and resources, each of which I purchased, examined, and still own, today.
Dr. King taught me the power in problem-driven research reading that results in original, powerful, creative, persuasive expression. It was from King that I discovered the necessity of my own, and my students’ reading experiences to be relevant and useful. Dr. King also taught me the power of maintaining a positive, open mind.
As an example, many might ask, “Why would a reverend read, the Communist Manifesto? My-my! I shan’t do it, else I become a communist, myself!”
However, not only was King open to reading and examining all literature pertaining to society and social justice, he was also quite facile about finding the goodness within each author’s original motives driving their expression. His review of the Communist Manifesto could have been a critique detailing its every possible flaw; instead, he chose to share his findings that this short, globe-changing manifesto began as an earnest out cry against the injustices suffered by working class citizens.
After two years studying King’s early years, his years at Morehouse, Crozier, and Boston University, I then turned to a 17 year study of the non-fiction works authored by, C. S. Lewis. In particular, I studied a series of addresses titled, The Weight of Glory, and a short book called, The Problem of Pain.
From C. S. Lewis I learned many things. The most significant thing Lewis did was to frame a problem of profound interest to me. I discovered that I was interested in the problem of morality and society.
Lewis referred me to nearly one-hundred authors of both non-fiction and fiction works. I purchased and examined each one; they are still a part of my personal library.
Upon completing my own independent scholarly research into society and morality–and a possible “S”omething at back of these, I decided to share the results in a thesis: The Riddle of Morality. I submitted my thesis to Oxford’s journal, Mind, for publication consideration. After much debate, it was decided that my submission be declined.
I still continued to conduct my research, and once completed, I spent months designing the outline and layout for a formal treatise named, The Society Divine.
However, remembering back to the scuffle resulting from my small thesis paper on society and morality, I decided to scrap the idea of a formal treatise. It seemed to me not a very shrewd thing, sharing the results of such a confrontational discipline, directly with my peers.
Therefore, beginning in the fall of 2010, I made the decision to share the results of my research into the system created by the collision of society with morality–in third person. I decided to share my results within a YA speculative fantasy fiction novel, The Quantum Accident.
Five and one-half years later, I emerged with a completed novel, whereby the length had grown to nearly 110,000 words.
Within a mode set entirely within my own over-active imagination, the results of my research enjoyed a fullness I dare say could never have been accomplished, had I gone through with my decision to put it all up in a formal treatise. In addition to this, instead of directly sharing what could only be taken as a mere mendicant utterly rebuking the unspoken laws of moral superiority and emotional sophistication–when put up in the form of a children’s novel, heavy issues such as addiction, bullying, exclusion, prejudice were all modeled using concrete plot devices designed to portray beliefs and behaviors at back of societal injustice–portraying these through macro-images, which at first glance appear irrationally ridiculous to their very core–upon retiring to one’s bed after having read about these, one just begins to suspect that somewhere hidden within all that terrific fantasy there reside social truths much easier discussed when one of the plot devices for exclusivity happens to be a clever catapult specially designed for strapping unfit citizens, only to catapult (cast) them away over the expansive Lonely Ocean to the treacherous, harbor less Kry Island, with a mere bobber of survival provisions–that is, given the poor outlaws, indeed, survived the violent fall.
Reading became meaningful to me when I was able to choose my own material, and chart my own course for solving problems of interest to me. As pertains my study of fictional works, reading became meaningful to me for the same reasons.
Finally, I did not discover my passion for writing until age forty-three. After all, I was quite taken up with all the fascinating books with which I had filled my own bookshelves. Through this series of literacy mis-adventures, positive results emerged. My drive to write was no mere desire, but a need to express fueled by many hours of having been deeply impressed by the reading, re-reading, evaluation and comparison of a small list of works studied–as opposed to beginning my writing career earlier after examining some prodigious list of works studied.
In my own case, and perhaps this applies to my students: more is not always better. Repeated readings of a few selections deepened my understanding of a complex problem; it likely did a better job of assisting me than if I had skimmed through every work ever written on the philosophy of society and morality.
I learned from:
Dr. King, Gandhi, Marx & Engels, Lee Harper, C. S. Lewis, Kenneth Grahame, G. K. Chesterton, George MacDonald, Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis of Sales, Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, Robinson Crusoe, Socrates (Plato), Kant, Saint Augustine, the canonized first century Palestine news reports by Matt, Mark, Dr. Luke, and John Bar-Jonah: I followed this by continuing my study of every non-fiction work written by Lewis, as well as all of his fictional works. Finally, I have just begun my own personal journey through a series of Science Fiction fantasy novels, as well as a couple volumes of classic world literature, myth, fable and tales.
What did I learn? I learned that choice empowers students who become transformed by literature, whether fiction or non-fiction. I also discovered that a small set of works studied–and studied at great length–creates within the human reasoning creature an absolute need to express. This need to express is unparalleled by any threat of coercion by educators to, “Write–OR ELSE, and, BECAUSE I SAID SO (I am the teacher, after all).
Literacy is both empowering and powerful; it is both poignant and pleasant; literacy is one particular discipline all human beings were designed to discover, enjoy, challenge, etc.