Over the course of the next week, I’ll be posting in serial fashion a longer piece that I wrote in 2008 during the Capital District Writing Project‘s Summer Institute (SI). The Summer Institute is a month-long gathering of teachers, designed to immerse them in their own writing and a study of writing instruction. A part of the experience is time dedicated for teacher themselves to write on a subject of their choice. Some teachers write fiction, others poetry; some write memoir and some write journal articles.
During the 2008 SI I chose to dust off journal entries I composed during the summer I spent as an ordained Buddhist monastic at Gampo Abbey. I had the idea that these entries could inspire some sort of a longer piece. What came of the rereading was a written reflection about the relationship between meditation, writing, and the discovery of the self. The piece itself incorporates journal entries from 2005 and reflection from 2008. I write this introduction tonight, in 2012.
Over the course of the next few days I’ll post it, bit by bit, but not because I believe it highlights anything necessarily profound. However, I do believe it is a document that reveals how one can evolve as a function of the practice of writing and reflection. And I do believe that this realization — that the process of writing can be personally revelatory — is particularly relevant for teachers at this moment in the history of American education.
With the prominence of the Common Core Standards in schools nationwide, teachers are currently being impelled to focus on the use of writing to create an evidence-based argument. I do not believe that this is a bad thing. But to blatantly disregard the role of personal narrative in one’s growth as a writer, and the construction of a meaningful text, is to ignore what I argue is a universal impulse to write. We write to make meaning for ourselves; we write to share that meaning with others. And this impulse is deeply rooted in our experience of our lives as stories.
Thank you for reading. These excerpts are shared in the spirit of reflection, with the belief that the voicing of every individual’s story is essential when one is in pursuit of constructing a shared narrative.