Building Foundations – reading to writing

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“Good Writing is one of the forms that hard labor takes. – It is taking the nothingness of air and turning it into a pleasure palace built on a foundation of words.”

Pat Conroy – My Reading Life

My current read is Pat Conroy’s book My Reading Life. It is a delight to learn of his young years with books, his family and his teachers. His mother was not highly educated but had a deep drive to learn. She used the library like so many of us use the grocery store. It was a weekly visit – maybe daily.

His was a household where questions were important and all answer could be found in a book and the book could be found at the library. Pat would explore the woods around him. He would bring home an animal, leaves, whatever and his mother was off to the library to get a book about that topic. His mother read whatever her children were reading from school. She educated herself as her children were learning. They sought out answers as a team.

Conroy had a strong foundation on which to build that hard labor of writing. A foundation that allowed words to become building blocks for castles, travels and stories to captivate the mind.

As I look at our classrooms, our students, and their homes I wonder if we are building that foundation. Are we building that curiosity that makes us run to a book (or internet) for information? Are we exploring the small world around us so questions surface and we seek answers that lead us to the larger world? Do we help our students gather questions and then go look for the answers?Are we helping parents see the importance of this type of learning?

As I think about the end of the school year and testing season coming to an end (yes I know we have to get through April) can we make time in those lasts weeks of school to model exploration of the world around us, making list of questions and seeking answers through books – both fiction and non fiction. No, not another research report – just questions and answers because we want to know and learn. Just writing because we are seeking answers – writing in response to our own questions and reading.

Wouldn’t it be great if our students spent their summer exploring their neighborhood, a city park, a backyard, woods, lakes – wondering, reading and writing?

Writing poems, stories, answers to questions they care about  –

Pat’s mother and teachers modeled that style of learning for him and he builds wonderful stories for you to visualize. He writes from all the words swimming in his head and all the little explorations he has experienced. They are the base of writing.

Are we helping build this foundation of writing for our students?url


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in Reflection, Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Building Foundations – reading to writing

  1. arjeha says:

    Pat’s mothered surely valued education…always something new to learn about. This is something we as teachers strive to instill in our students.

  2. showgem says:

    There seems to be a lot more distractions and schedules than there was when Pat Conroy was a kid. Many kids seem more willing to explore the internet and technology rather than the world around them because they can carry it around in their pocket.

  3. I’ve had Conroy on my list of authors to read.  Currently working y way through Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery and Ben Carson’s America the Beautiful.   Spreading Joy, Linda Winokur

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