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IN JUST SIX WEEKS…

By Lucie K. Lewis – Central Team Co-Facilitator

Even though it has been a long time since I was a student, with just under six weeks to go before school starts, I have been thinking about the things that I used to do to get in that going-back-to-school frame of mind. Getting in the right frame of mind to be back in school from day one makes such a big difference in how the whole year goes that someone should write a ‘how to’ book.

      I suspect that this musing was kindled by the very challenging book that I have been reading the past several weeks. I have been spending half of my time in the dictionary struggling to understand what the author was trying to say, and with each new word, my thoughts have been wandering back to the summer between eighth and ninth grade when my mom signed me up for a summer course at the library called “Six Weeks to Words of Power.” The book was .35 cents, but I have never forgotten the experience. I even still have the book! Language is our most important skill, and we are sadly losing our mastery of it. Beyond being our means of communicating with one another, language is central to our thinking.

Thought is impossible without words.

John Dewey

      The book I am reading was written in 1949. The author’s use of language is incredible. He uses words we do not even hear anymore, but the power of the imagery he creates is remarkable. I feel at such a loss while I am reading when the picture he is carefully crafting eludes me, and, so, out comes the dictionary. The richness of the passage just comes to life when the meaning of the central word becomes clear to me.

      The reason this made me remember that summer class is because I felt that same vivid connection to language through the new words that we learned to use. That September, I started ninth grade feeling invigorated and ready, not only because I felt armed with a new vocabulary arsenal, but also because I had been able to learn and understand so many new words. I felt empowered — as if learning had become mine to do. Another reason I felt ready was that the course had lasted almost to the beginning of school, and, so, my frame of mind was still locked into that learning and thinking mode. I think that was my best year in school.

      How are you going to fill the lazy, hazy days of August? What will you do to re-engage your mind into a learning mode? There are many ways to do this, such as doing crossword puzzles, playing word games like hangman, putting together board puzzles, and, yes, even reading a challenging book. So, I challenge you to commit to doing something to finish August ready for school.

      The mission of Step Up Springfield is to help you become the best you can be and to be ready for life. Remember, we can stand behind you, but you must stand up for yourself first. For more information on learning to believe in yourself, contact Step Up Springfield at (413) 693-0228.

Funk, Wilfred. Six Weeks to Words of Power. NY: Pocket Books, 1953. p. 15. 

As published in the August 2009 edition of Afro Am Point Of View retrieved from:

http://www.afampointofview.com/step_up_springfield.htm