Before we begin, dear reader, it is only fair that we get acquainted as we prepare to delve into this adventure together. I am a 20-year-old English Education major at Colorado State University who buys books like some women buy shoes, writes articles, and essays for local journals, and enjoys spending long evenings in the dim corners of her local 24-hour coffee shop. I prefer dogs to cats, sneakers to heels, and messy buns to curls. I’m a firm believer in laughter and kindness.
I started writing when I was in grade school. Poems, short fiction, short chaptered novels, you name it. My fourth grade teacher gave me the contact information for Scholastic’s publishing house, saying that I could send my works to them and maybe even get published. I treasured that piece of paper, keeping it under my pillow but never sending my writings in to be critiqued. I never thought I was that good. Who would ever want to read what I wrote? I was embarrassed that my teacher wanted me to share this with the world. I look back on it now and think how silly I was, but in my shy little mind then, it was practically a matter of life or death.
Years went by, filled with the endless consumption of any book I could get my hands on and the scribbling of angsty poetry that makes me flinch now. High school, in its full glory of gawky homecoming pictures and social awkwardness, saw what was then the end of my writing career as I knew it. There were short stories, characters, and emotional poems scratched into the margins of my notebooks when I found myself bored or lost in math class, but they never saw the light of day. My senior year, however, my English teacher insisted on having all her students enter a poetry competition. The prize was having your work published alongside the works of other strong high school writers in the America Library of Poetry’s annual collection of student poetry. I was terrified to have strangers reading my work, which is probably why I forgot about the deadline until the day of. Panicked, I typed up the first poem I found and handed it in. My poem is now at the bottom of page 181 of the 2014 publication of Accolades.
This publication shocked the daylights out of me. I never thought of myself as a writer. It had become just a way to pass the time, to express myself, my real self, without going crazy. However, it gave me the courage to start showing my work to other people. Once in college, I dared to show some of my essays to the editor of the Colorado State University branch of The Odyssey, an online publication platform centered around social media. They hired me on as one of their writers, giving me the opportunity to write weekly articles on whatever I felt needed to be communicated. It has shown me new ways of writing on a level I had never before considered and allowed me the chance to refine my skills and form my voice as a writer.
I have never tried my hand at writing a blog, so why on earth am I doing this? Why this blog? Well, as any writer will tell you, our craft is about sharing our passion. One of my greatest passions is education and the power it has in our society. Education is the bedrock upon which our society was built and continues to draw strength from. In a society centered around violence and argument, education offers equity and understanding. While I am a poet, I cannot put it any more beautifully than a 19th century novelist and playwright named Edward Buller-Lytton, who was the first to create the words around which this blog will center itself. He said simply, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Think about that for a second. The pen is mightier than the sword. Yet as images of pain, anguish, war, bombings, shootings streak across our computer, television, and phone screens, we often feel helpless, asking “What can I do?” “How can we change this?” Our last thought is to reach for a flimsy tube of ink.
But that is where the real power lies. When we speak. When we shout. When we write.
The greatest among us did not raise a fist. They did not fire a gun. They did not charge at the enemy. They spoke. They wrote. Martin Luther King, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Abraham Lincoln, Mike Rose, J. R. R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Malala Yousafzai… The list runs on and on. These men and women used their words to change the way we see the world. They used their various educations and experiences to produce words that challenge the very core of who we are and individuals and a society. Each voice is unique, carrying a personal and vital message to whomever is willing to hear it and learn it.
My voice is important. Your voice is important. I am writing to you, dear reader, to share my ideas and what I value most. The comments on this page will allow you to share your words with me. That is education. The mutual exchange of ideas in the spirit of learning and personal growth. This is the kind of education that can change the world. Not war. Not violence. Not swords. The pen. The blog. The post. The comment. The conversation. My passion is helping others realize the potential and the power behind education and all that it could be.
Some of the topics discussed will be difficult to swallow. Some will be light and fluffy and wonderful. All of them are vital if we are to join together on the path that education has laid before us. We will discuss what education really it, what it should be, and what it has become. We will cover how we learn and why we learn. There will be days we talk about what works and what does not work in our education system. All of it can spark a conversation that may open your eyes and allow you to change the world around you.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Let us begin.