(44) About Writing

While trolling for some lesson plan ideas this week, I read that back in the day Socrates thought the act of writing things down was going to be the decline of civilization.  He said people would no longer use their own brains to remember, and this would be a terrible thing.

All I have to say is — Socrates, you were wrong.  Writing things down so I don’t have to remember them is the only way I can survive the school year.

Case in point: Last night around 2:30 a.m. I woke up and my teacher mind immediately went to thinking about what I need to do in the morning.  This has been an extremely busy week, and I was thinking about things I still haven’t gotten to — an email I needed to send, something I need to fix on my sub plans, and (God help me) my lesson plans for next week.

I immediately got up and, in the dark living room, wrote myself a note to remind myself of the email and the sub plans, stuck the sticky on my cellphone, and then went back to bed.

About an hour later I woke up again and my mind started up again.  I am in the throes of writing instruction right now, trying to get my students up to speed and practiced appropriately for the upcoming nightmare of a writing test.  There is so much more to teach than just writing. It’s about reading and thinking and organization and terms…it’s exhausting.  Utterly and completely exhausting.

But, the glory of the night is that ideas come.  Very quickly I was back out of bed and writing down my lesson plan sequence for the next two weeks of writing instruction.  It isn’t enough, but it is all the time I have.

The main point here is that with the act of writing it down, I could forget it and went right back to sleep.  I barely remember what it says.  All I know is that when I go into work an hour earlier than I actually have to be there, I can get the plans into the system and leave tonight for my three day weekend knowing I’m in good shape.

I’m sure Socrates was right about a lot of things.  But his prediction about writing was not one of them. Some human way back then realized that as the world progressed, there had to be a way to preserve knowledge.  I salute that unknown person, for without him I would forever be going to the grocery store to pick up things I forgot.  Thank you.


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