Of Teaching and Writing

Yesterday, I sat in among the massed faculty on the floor of the Greensboro Coliseum to witness that great rite of passage, college graduation. The students were exhorted to follow their dreams, work hard, maintain their ethical standards, trust in God, thank their parents...all the standard tropes of commencement.

Amid all the celebration - the cheers, the signs, the lovingly decorated mortarboards, the bouquets and beach balls - the faculty sat as a silent chorus. Each of us had students crossing the stage who had grown from students into fellow scholars, others whose nurturing and guidance demanded a more parental approach, but every name called was a witness to success.

Those who can, in my experience, also teach. It is a great mission, to pass on what one has learned to another person. Writing is a particularly knotty subject, as we truly cannot teach someone how to write. The writing comes from within. But we can show a comelier turn of phrase, direct reading that will inspire and inform, help the writer see his or her vision more clearly, and encourage each new generation to be brave in the story and honest in the poem.

Congratulations, graduates of North Carolina A and T State University!

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