Friday, July 11, 2008

Reading and Writing

Today, I would like to thank those who brought the world of words to me.

My sister Cheryl, six and a half years older than I, taught me how to read. After I had been in her life for three years she had about had it with my illiteracy, sat down with a Dr. Seuss book and pointed at the words as she read it to me. Somehow, I was able to make the connection between the words I was hearing and the words on the page, translate those words to other places, and I was off and running.

In seventh grade I had an English teacher, Carol Poteat, who taught us the art of the précis. This involves reading a two or three page article and condensing it to a paragraph, without omitting any relevant material. By the time I was twelve, thanks to Mrs. Poteat, I knew how to write in a clear and concise style.

My ninth grade English teacher was really something special. A black man who came from the Deep South in the 1950s and had a serious speech defect, I doubt anyone expected James Morris to be a New York City English teacher. Mr. Morris treated ninth graders as if we were college students, and got back college-level effort. When I got to college and took freshman comp, my classmates were terrified at the thought of writing a ten page term paper. I had written one twice that length in ninth grade.

So take a minute to think about who taught you what you know. Reading and writing are skills so basic to our lives that we don’t often think about how we came by them. Say thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think most of us know of some teacher or professor who had made a definite mark on us. I agree - we should thank them.