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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Burning and Censorship

I'm afraid that, as a doctor of education and a teacher, I come to these subjects at not only an educated level, but also a very emotional one. Recently I read a Facebook post about the destruction of book kiosks in Alexandria, Egypt by the "new Islamist governor".  In my opinion terrible acts like this are done completely out of ignorance and fear. The uneducated fear new or different ideas from the ones they hold as true. For, in their minds, nothing can be true except what they believe. This also applies to those who would ban books from schools (supposedly, places of education) because they believe the ideas or situations expressed within these books will somehow harm the ones reading them.  People can only be harmed by ignorance and fear, not by education, not by the expression of ideas. When books are destroyed we are all diminished by the act. When books are banned, for whatever reason, from our schools, our children's education and their view of life becomes limited. How can we do this? Education is the sharing of ideas. If the subject of a book is questioned by parents or teachers, the only way children are going to be able to make up "their own minds" is to talk with them about the subject. Open, honest discussion leads to understanding, awareness, and an educated child. Truly, this must be our objective in the 21st century. Must we slide back to the narrow, fear-driven ways of the Dark Ages and destroy something simply because we happen to disagree?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why Do You Write?

I'm offering a workshop for writers in October at a local craft center. While putting together elements I wanted to look at in the workshop, I got back to basics. Many people write, but why? What are their motivations to take up the most lonely occupation I know of - writing? It hit me that that is one question I would ask workshop attendees. Why do you write? The answer, for me, is that I have something to say. And I think most writers do so for that very reason. In my case I have something to say to children, and that is, basically, that they are okay, they are capable, they can do anything they set their minds to; also I want to help children discover that we are all human, all flawed, and all capable of change. If I can help children who read my books (or adults who might find them interesting) to recognize that the differences between people are just that: differences, and nothing more, then I will have accomplished much. For, at the end of the day, we are all human, we all have our pock marks. But most important, we all have a gift to share with the world. This is the message I care about deeply. We all have a gift. Whatever our gift, it is our responsibility to give it away, to share it with others. I hope the words I use, the characters and situations I shape and present to the reader, will let them see this in themselves. Why do you write?