Thursday, April 12, 2012

I had a college English professor who gave a lecture on composition my second semester. He pointed out that the letters A, T  and R are simple representatives of good literature. Each letter represents a symbol unto itself but the order in which you place them conveys an entirely different message. The word "tar" conveys one meaning while "rat"(same letters different positions) conveys something completely different.
He pointed out that that the letters made words, words made paragraphs and paragraphs made an essay. The order and position of the ideas and paragraphs in an essay were as important as the position of the letters in a word to create the proper meaning.   I never forgot that analogy but never really applied it to the another placement of those letters which spells "art".  
Art is just symbols, stokes and squiggly lines on a page or canvas that convey a meaning of some sort.  The way you arrange these squiggly lines is crucial to the what you are trying to show or say.  Trying to become a wordsmith requires me to look at letters, words and paragraphs in a blog as the pieces of a puzzle.  They have to line up just right to create the correct picture.  Misplacement of a single paragraph, word or sometimes even a letter will effect the entire piece. 
This professor's name was Mr. Roundtree at North Texas State University. If he is still there he would be would have to be a hundred years old. He taught me more that I will ever connect directly to his class.  I am sure there are things I just assume as truth which were actually his principles of composition. 
By the time I was in his class I had already been shot down as a writer.  Because my spelling was so bad my high school teachers had already discouraged me from writing anything again  Of course that was before computers and spelling checkers. (Two of the greatest innovations for Dyslexics the world has ever produced). 
Professor Rountree was not so concerned with the mechanics of spelling.  He figured that with dictionaries and editors,  spelling errors were minor obstacles that were very correctable; who would have known then that we were only a decade from having a word processor.  Mr. Roundtree was more concerned with the pictures that were being painted by the words.  It would still be years before I ever thought of myself as a writer but his encouragement was the first step to regain my confidence.
My point is this: Teaching is a very important job.  Good teaching will stay with you for a long time, but so will bad teaching. One misguided criticism can stymie the creativity in any artist. It would be great if all the English teachers I had were as communicative as Mr. Rountree.  
Fortunately, the good information I got stayed with me more than the bad. Unfortunately, we value a Basketball player or movie star with more respect than our teachers.  We pay teachers less than other jobs of lessor importance to our future. Nothing should be as important as a teacher. Personally, Kobe Bryant and Brad Pit have never made my life better on any level, yet they receive huge salaries for what they do.  I love to watch them work, but pay for the privilege.  While we are rearranging our politics and economy,  can we also realign our values to the jobs we think are important? 
All I see is massive amounts of time an money being spent on a new stadium for LA so we can attract an NFL team, while the funding for schools is sinking to the poverty level.  If we do not have that simple priority in check how can we solve the other problems we have in this country. 
Where ever you are Mr. Rountree, thanks.  Some day we will clone you and produce better writers.  Until science catches up with that need OMG you can't LOL with the way it is going now:(
As you were,

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