I am a reader.
Books. Newspapers. Magazines. All paper, no digital. I read to learn. I am curious. Books offer depth, reflection and perspective that cannot be found anywhere else. Periodicals offer a glimpse of the “now” and generate questions. I read aggressively, not to be distracted or entertained, but to be pushed to think and grow.
The quote below, from the novel Demian, has been my guide for over 30 years. We are formed by others. Each a product of nature and nurture not of our choosing. Culture. Faith. Values. Politics. All that makes you “you” and me “me.” The objective is to tear it all down. Not just to destroy (this is nihilism) but to critically evaluate. To review consciously, retain what we choose and seek the rest for ourselves. This is NOT an easy path, nearly EVERYTHING in our culture encourages us to simply join the herd and live “happily ever after.” You must choose and be willing to sacrifice in order to achieve true independence (of heart, mind and soul – if not of body). It is a relentless process.
The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. – Hesse
I am a teacher.
My mission and purpose is to ignite a fire of curiosity in the minds of students. To fight ambivalence, mindless ambition, complacency and the pursuit of the material over all else. It is not my intention to fill the minds of my students – to instruct – but to teach them how to ask questions and seek answers for themselves. The most critical tool offered through education (NOT typically available in school) – to question, evaluate, analyze, inquire, assimilate, connect and reach conclusions independently – is intellectual freedom. If students do not develop disciplined, curious and rigorous intellectual habits then their minds are defenseless against the ideas of others, those with both genuine and evil intentions.
Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage… I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again. I would have you make up your mind’s there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves. – Eugene V. Debs
Reading is dead.
This website is a eulogy of sorts, an ode to the death of my greatest passion. I do not say this lightly, and do so with a broken heart. It is what I see and what I sense among my students and peers. Who reads? With so many videos, games and content to stream – who has the discipline or the time. Like physical fitness, the reading mind requires effort to develop and retain its prowess. This is a lost battle. Digital platforms are engineered specifically to how the brain works – designed to hook (and hold) us with and endless stream of easily digestible content. It makes picking up a book, in a quiet room, alone, a nearly impossible act – especially for someone who has never done it. A monumental will is required to develop such a habit. Why would you? It is tremendously difficult, perhaps even greater than convincing a kid to eat raw carrots instead of Cheetos.
I know others will argue that reading is merely changing, moving to digital formats and alternative outlets. Perhaps. But reading in its new forms has changed the very act and its impact – it has become wired and frenetic, fraught with links and click bait that prevent full immersion into the content.
The “Pew Internet and American Life Project” A 2012 survey found:
- 42% of college students will never read a book again after graduation
- The average American home has 2.86 TV sets – more televisions per home than human beings.
- Nearly 33% of American children live in a household where the television is on all or most of the time.
- 61% of children in the US use screen technology everyday. Their brains are being wired to NOT read deeply.
Reading is a verb.
It demands full attention. Everything presented should be taken in, processed, analyzed and matched with current ideas. We should reflect upon and be altered by everything we read – something added, something changed.
Reading is an immense gift, but only if words are assimilated, taken into the soul – eaten, chewed, gnawed and received in unhurried delight…reading that enters our souls as food enters our stomachs, spreads through our blood and becomes – love and wisdom. – Eugene Peterson, Eat This Book
So if reading is dead, why write?
Do birds sing to be heard? Flowers bloom to be seen? Why do we do what we do? I do not write to be read. I write as a means of sorting out the thoughts and ideas scattered in my mind. To create cohesion and connections among the books, articles and ideas I have consumed. Its existence is its purpose. I will surrender everything that follows.
The purpose of this blog is to share my reading journey. Often, while teaching classes, I will suggest books, podcasts, movies or documentaries students should read to further understand a topic of discussion. This is an extension of those classroom conversations.
While I may throw in a post (or two) about other things, it will primarily focus on the ideas presented and insights provoked by the books and articles I’ve read.
Below each post you will see the following: BE STRONG. STAY HUNGRY. WALK TALL. For me, these words mean:
BE STRONG. To live a principled life (with integrity) we must be bold, fearless and unwavering.
STAY HUNGRY. Never cease to dream, strive and look ahead. We should always be chasing that voice within – getting ever closer our most authentic self. We are either growing, learning and overcoming challenges OR we are in a state of decline. Look around – those are the choices.
WALK TALL. The forces that work against us are huge. We must persist with confidence and certainty. We cannot wait for others to buy in, we must believe first, and proceed accordingly.