What do the circulatory system, WW1, the life-cycle of a star, Samuel Adams, great characters from exceptional stories, and a single spring from the workings of an ink pen have in common?
Why human potential, of course.
Interdisciplinary endeavors provide the grand opportunity to perch students high above the realm of facts and mechanics, inspiring them to weave connections across disciplinary boundaries as they reflect on common themes, symbols, and purpose.
What better way to fortify learning?
An interdisciplinary endeavor challenges students to weave new knowledge to what is previously known. Challenges students to assemble and construct as they learn ignite curiosity.
And so letter writing is a tradition in my writing workshops. Letters crafted by hand. From the pencil markings scratched on paper to polished draft. The kind that take nearly an hour to read, to seep in and savor. Letter writing empowers student writers to share the connections they are making. Interdisciplinary connections. Connections at the intersection of acuity, creativity, and and ingenuity. But most important, engaging in the art of letter writing demands authenticity. Letter writing requires writers to raise their voice.
This year, letter writing at the Guild coincided with a wonderful Miss Lori (our Historian in Residence) lesson. When introducing students to The Committees of Correspondence, she first asked for a definition of the word correspondence and was met with the chirp of crickets. Not one could conjure a working definition.
“What does it mean to correspond?”
I imagine she stopped for a bit of word study before proceeding: “To correspond is to communicate by exchange of letters. Correspondence is a letter or letters that passes between correspondents (the letter writers).”
This set the stage for Miss Lori to continue, “The American Revolution would have never succeeded if it weren’t for letter writing.”
Think Samuel Adams. Back in 1772, he organized a network of letter writing—The Committees of Correspondence—to keep colonists informed of British actions against the colonies, and to plan a concerted response. Letter writing united the 13 colonies and girded their loins for revolution.
Letter writing is a terrific domain to teach a writing truism: one idea leads to another. And when it does the reader is engaged, intrigued, mesmerized.
At the Guild, letter writing exercises are a grand opportunity to inspire young writers to connect the dots, dots that they might not have imagined could be connected. And as the correspondents weave this disparate knowledge to one, they bring permanence, relevance, and significance to what is learned.
Trust me, it requires courage to weave the circulatory system, WW1, the life-cycle of a star, Samuel Adams, great characters from exceptional stories, and a single spring from the workings of an ink pen to a cohesive letter of consequence. But the task is worth the effort. So pull out some paper, think about this past year's learning, connect the dots.
Letter writing is kindly, generous, revolutionary.