Photo credit: benuski via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

Listening to Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, and through a character in the story, who is a teacher, King describes his own theory of education and teaching reading. It is the front end of his mantra about becoming a Writer (“read a lot and write a lot”), goes against just about all the “settled science” of teaching in our Common Core era, and is rather an ancient way of doing and learning.

No great writer became one after dissecting all the component parts of a novel and no great reader was ever made by having been grilled with 20 questions about character development and theme and plot immediately afterward. What happens to a dissected thing? It dies.

That said, everyone should read Aristotle’s Poetics, which raises our awareness of the essence of story–what it is as a thing, and what it’s not. But more than that, the essence must be deeper than the mind. It must burrow down to the heart and shape our soul after its own fashion. Only then can we become great readers and writers.

This is a natural law and is inviolable. I think this to be so because it aligns with what we know to be the first and greatest command, the first principle of everything: love. Love compels us. Love has made us. Love has saved us. By ordering our loves and our soul, we are sanctified. By loving the beloved, we become like it.

If our objective is to imitate God, it is not enough to know about Him and how He works. You must love Him.

Even the demons believe that he is…and tremble.

If our objective is to be a writer, it is not enough to know about stories and how they work. You must love them.

Even the English teacher knows that novels exist and trembles. 😜

Just like all education, love is the only true and lasting motivation.

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