She chose the step not taken.
(Pedagogy) Philosophy and Nonsense      
Thoughts about writing, education, and experience                                  Presented by Forrest D. Poston

The first goal of teaching is to strengthen, deepen and refine our intrinsic love of learning. All other goals and all methods must stem from that idea. Any that do not support that goal must at least be questioned and adjusted, if not eliminated. Otherwise, we are not teaching but training.

And that has made all the differenc.

Writing and Education

Autobiography Challenge

Considering Conclusions

Considering Introductions

Four Meanings of Life

Getting a Clue

Godot and the Great Pumpkin

A Major is More Minor Than
You Think

The Poetry Process (A look at 4 versions of a poem.)

Thoughts About Picking a Major

Quick Points About Education

Quick Points About Writing

Reading Poetry and Cloud Watching

Revising Revision

Reviving Experience

Reviving Symbolism

Using an Audience


What Makes a Story True?

What's the Subject of This Class? (Being revised.)

Why Write?

Writing and Einstein (The Difference Between Information and Meaning)

Writing and the Goldilocks Dilemma

Links to Other Sites

(One of the items on the site written by one of my former students.)

Ms. Write Meets Her Match in Jr. Ms. Write Now
by Heide Perry
August 8, 2000

There I was - There I was - There I was - IN my parents' living room. Home from college. Sprawled out like Aster's Duck. (Don't ask. It's a lifelongMom-ism.) Trying to explain the Essence Of Writing to my sweet baby sis.

Then I remembered. My S.B.S. was in the very throes of inescapable angst that most of us recall, with reluctance and a visible cringe, as simply sixteen. I would need to roll up my sleeves for this mission. Because, in the name of all that's virginal and Walt Whitman, how could I adequately voice that, in the realm of the written word, I was Anne Lamott's humor, Lydia Lunch's shocking vision and SARK's free spirit all smeared into one bulging package? Only that -- (details, details) -- no one yet knows my name? There it was: Panic. I was at a loss. How to get this tidbit across? Especially when she drew several thousand times more than she ever read?

And then it hit me. Twice. First in the lulling voice of my therapist: "Hey Hei, this is NOT about you." And second in the voiceless voice of my Spirit. Closest translation: Divine inspiration comes in two word packages. While attempting to stall and simultaneously shake off that sneak attack of blatant co-dependency, I communicated to my sister a few points central to my philosophy of great writing. I studiously stressed the importance of truth telling as a common and reliable jumping off place. That, when done well, it speaks to us all who are sitting in this precariously balanced boat called life.

I went on to brilliantly detail the essence of distraction as it finds us today. In the television. In every teenager's telephone. In the very vices of our culture. In short: in the mindless, brain-candy activity that is technology in modern America.

I even preached to the invaluable tool that is solemn, heartfelt meditation, with the self-same inflated,
ego-fueled wisdom indigenous mainly to the millennial North American graduate student.

And she all but promptly fell asleep. God love her.

So I rewound, deflated the ego, and went back to small words and a simple concept. Rusted Violets. This was high school junior English after all, and she couldn't POSSIBLY have had the likes of the tyrant whom - hello! - I had had that year. So how hard could it be? I mean, really. So I dabbled in the basics and let my beliefs give way to example. The truth was this to me: when all else gives way to naught, one digs deep inside and excavates the contradictions common to us
all. Our inner poetry.

"Rusted violets," I told her. "It's as easy as that."

After a small row and a hair tousle, courtesy of the queer look she afforded me, I explained further. I told her that all she needed was a good diving off place. In its simplest form, a two word tidbit that harbored within it a contradiction while, at the same time, drawing an intriguing picture in her mind's eye.

That did it. Being that she is an accomplished young sketch artist (something I will NEVER be accused of, mind you), this hit the nerve I'd been seeking on the living room rug, grasping at for the last half hour.

The twinkle was back and I shared then this. "Speak of your image, where it blooms, why it rusts, how it survives and who it wants to become."

So she shyly gave way to the birth of her image, why it was and where it was pointed. And the rest, she said, was cake.

Mission Accomplished.

I sit back on my own rug these days, a handful of years later, and take note of my own advice when I find that I've hit that proverbial, wordless wall. I say to myself, as gently as I can muster, "Start small, Hei, then tell the truth. The beauty will draw itself."

Trust that, I've learned, and you can write anything. Provided, of course, you ever did survive junior English.

(Heide Perry, Ohio University, was that 1994 or 93?)

Back to the Home Page

Back to the Home Page

Other Essays and Poetry

Something Somewhat Vaguely Like a Resume

Being Like Children

Beyond the Genes (Dad)

The Blessing and the Blues

Bookin' Down Brown Street

The Cat With a Bucket List

David and the Revelation

The Dawn, the Dark, and the Horse I Didn't Ride In On (an odd, meandering, semi-romantic story)

Getting a Clue

Ghost Dancer in the Twilight Zone

The Hair Connection and the Nature of Choices

The Mug, the Magic, and the Mistake

Sadie on the Bridge

Trumpet Player, USDA Approved



Selected Poems

The Poetry Process

Writing by Current or Former Students

Ms. Write Meets Her Match in Jr. Ms. Write Now
by Heide Perry

I'll Just Have Cats
by Cara Hummel

Toys to Toys
by Allyson Bowlds

Scribbles and Bits

Links to Other Sites