Mr. Comans: It’s MCT Day 2! Time for the Writing Test! Hey, lemme ask ya- know why we don’t have much of an inside look on how the Indians felt during European colonization? Because despite all their wonderful advancements, they didn’t develop a writing system. Writing! It’s important!
Mrs. Newton: Sometimes I don’t even know what planet you’re on.
The Time I Dropped Out of an English Class Because I Didn’t Get English
There ain’t much I took away from Dr. Lyon’s “Form and Theory of Poetry” class as an undergrad at Mississippi State- mostly because 99% of it went over my head and I took a W on my transcript for making a hasty exit mid-course. Seemingly everyone else in the class was an English major (I was not), they all knew each other, and they bantered with him and each other in some sort of theoretical language craft dialect I would only recognize again if I really, really needed a thousand paper airplanes and only had a lit-crit periodical handy.
But one part I got! And it sticks with me to this day. It’s an idea that surfaced while we discussed Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
So it goes like this: Your “world” is bound by the reach of your consciousness. In other words, the extent of the world that you’re in is defined by whatever you’re aware of. So, when you’re focused on your family, and your community, that’s your world. When you’re thinking about what’s going on in Ukraine, Planet Earth is your world. And yes, when you’re daydreaming and you’re not aware of even the people around you, you are “in your own little world.”
The cool part happens when you consider the implications from a creative standpoint. Sure, we humans have the ability to create worlds in our imaginations, but because the worlds we inhabit so often involve other people, we build brand new worlds through sharing experiences with other people! We are innerheadspace travellers, journeying from world to world every time we walk from one conversation to the next!
Genesis, and Genesis, and Genesis
Brave new worlds are being born every minute in the connective tissue of human interaction. Don’t believe me? Think about a special relationship you share with someone. Is it not completely unique from your other relationships? Is there not something about your dynamic with that person that’s unique from other connections you have? You two have, in a sense, created a beautiful, unique shared world of awareness by building from the DNA of your own consciousness.
Same thing for groups. It’s why reconnecting with a circle of old friends can sometimes feel like you never left, no matter how much time has passed- you created a world together, and you each sailed away for a while until you could return.
This is also why every teacher is nervous every August, no matter how long she has taught. The dynamic of every class is different, every year, because it’s a different collection of human beings every time- different human beings who have to work together to create the world they will inhabit for 180 days that year.
But this is also where we find a wrinkle that might just redeem us as a species. Sure, it’s true that there is “nothing new under the sun.” People are the same as they always have been. But the individuals are different. What is painfully obvious is also potentially game changing: this particular convergence of 7 billion perspectives has never happened before. We can- and are- creating a brand new world, every day. It’s up to us to do it better.
Lego My Logos
How do we do that? Literacy. Education. The power of utilizing language. It’s not an accident that in the biblical account, God created the world through the spoken word. And hey! We’re created in His image. In the human experience, words create worlds.
In an October 2012 interview for the Nerdist podcast, host Chris Hardwick and astronomer Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson described humanity’s various systems as a way for us to pass on survival knowledge. Each generation basically says to the next, “Here are some things we figured out about how to not die on this planet. Good luck.”
We have enough fresh, vibrant perspectives today to create a newer, better world. But without literacy as the focal point, perspectives are garbled at best, and completely silenced at worst. Let’s make sure that when our wonderful children dream up better worlds, those worlds have all the word power to grow up strong. Let’s teach these kids to write!