Sunday, October 09, 2011

seized by great notions...

Last night I had restless dreams. I was on a journey, and as you know great journeys are important to the soul. In this, I walked up a steep hill and was rewarded at the top by a field of snow. I could take nothing with me. No suitcase, no change of clothes. Where I was going I did not know except that I had a sense of the great urgency and importance of the journey.

I am working these days on trying to get my Wisdom of the Hands book developed enough to go into the hands of an agent. I am being helped in this journey by my former editor from Woodwork Magazine. We are walking through the snow. One thing that I can see so clearly is that I am best at writing short things. Articles, not books, essays, not chapters. I look through the blog and find interesting things that I have written, and I am thankful for this gift. Whether or not the Wisdom of the Hands ever becomes the book that I have imagined, as I look out over a field of snow, I know that this journey that we share is the journey of a lifetime. We must be seized by great notions.

This morning I was reading in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, a rare admission about schooling. Associate Superintendent for Secondary Schools in Little Rock, Daniel Whitehorn admitted,
"We kind of lost the focus in our middle schools on what middle schools are all about..." "What we have largely done is (we've) taught to a test... At first I thought it was going to be helpful -- the test was -- it was going to focus on student achievement and it was going to help all of our kids. But what it has really done is narrowed our curriculum and it's narrowed our focus, and we've lost sight of what is really important, which is getting our kids ready for high school and teaching them critical thinking skills."
One of the things they've done to make things better is to throw out much of the pre-packaged commercially produced curriculum they'd spent way too much money on and are going "naked," allowing teachers to do what they had been taught to do in the first place. Teachers, students and administrators must all be seized with greater notions. It may seem like walking in a field of snow. And the students will be better for it.

On another related subject, Fareed Zakaria writing for CNN asks If America is getting Soft? He states:
The evidence on the topic is pretty clear. The United States is slipping by most measures of global competitiveness. In category after category - actual venture capital funding, research and development - America has dropped well behind countries like Japan, South Korea and Sweden.
We had already slipped way behind those same countries in education. Do YOU see a correlation? If not, we will send you back to logic and math 101.

Allow yourself to be seized by something great and noble from within.
Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous5:38 PM

    Writing a book that's so near and dear to your heart is a bit like building a dream home. Would you want to tackle every aspect - the roofing, masonry, plumbing, electrical work, cabinetry - with equal enthusiasm? I suspect you'd enjoy some elements more than others, and might even be grateful for assistants to take on some other tasks, so long as the overall vision still works for you.

    I look forward to hearing about this journey!

  2. Larry, Actually, every part of it is sort of fun... the challenge for me is dealing with self-doubts... I've written 7 other books but how-to books are not regarded in the same way by academics, so this is relatively new turf for me. I want to be careful not to lose any part of my audience from them taking offense. Getting everyone on the same page to have equal regard for the hands may never happen, but hopefully we can get everyone reading a bit from the same book.

    Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. Have you read Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's great book on writing? ( )

    It's like she says: "Just take it bird by bird, buddy." If you try to write the whole book at once you'll rupture yourself. I'm facing something similar myself at the moment, so I know.