“Great minds have purpose; little minds have wishes. Little minds are subdued by misfortunes; great minds rise above them.”
Washington Irving (1783-1850)
Would you like to be remembered for having had a great mind? Great minds most likely become great through reading; great minds think things through, learn to contrast and compare things, along with ideas, Great minds can often pass over misfortunes, which can result from poor decision-making. Poor decision-making can be one of the bases for ignorance and narrow mindedness, which is also a basis for poverty.
Let’s talk about being poor. Poor persons are persons who are constantly struggling to make ends meet. To use a common cliché, they generally live from paycheck to paycheck -are always charging purchases on exhausted and overused accounts, relying on lay-a-ways, perpetually making minimal payments, and usually never complete the final payment of a loan or the balance of a bill. If you were born poor, have always been poor and will most likely die poor, you probably will be non-existent in life and in death? It is on this premise that a simple recommendation could be made.
One who lives in poverty, or lives within the lower class income, must read. Those who live just above the line of the lower middle class must read. Persons who want to strive to live better and make a jump toward personal progress must read. What must we read? Anything – newspapers, magazines, texts (not text messages!), novels, biographies, manuals - anything that can teach us beyond what we already know. We can learn also from our history, which can help us plan for our future. Reading can push us out of complacency and our ultra (but false) satisfaction over sitting around doing nothing; it can give us dreams through word, through imagination, and through mental vision, which forces our minds to go forward to thirst for a better life. Our children deserve the riches and the richness that reading can give us. Reading gives us direction, mental pictures, great friendships; we meet good people and not-so-good people; we travel to beautiful places – to ugly places. By beginning to read more, we can thrive and grow.
Children love it when a parent reads to them, and parents love when a child reads to either of them. The child feels power while reading; there is control while reading and telling the listener what is going on – what the words and the thoughts mean. We learn to converse significantly and to listen better. When a person is old, or sick, or sad, the reader makes that person feel better, and the listener and the reader both enjoy the mutual experience.
Reading generates improvement of the mind, the ability to reason better, the progression in mind and matter (money, property, items to barter), the movement from complacency to positive challenges and goals, the glory that dreams can produce, and the power to become close to our children and other loved ones. The reader acquires the ability to learn more facts and ideas; he can travel vicariously, and he becomes a lover of new and exciting adventures.
These recommendations are some of the reasons why we must read, and we must encourage our people to read. Through reading, we can achieve purpose and rise above misfortunes.
Washington Irving is considered to be one of America’s greatest 19th Century writers. He lived on the Hudson, near Tarrytown, New York, the locale of two of his great stories, when he wrote “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with Ichabod Crane, a tall, skinny teacher from Connecticut, and “Rip Van Winkle,” the old man with the long hair and beard, who slept for twenty years. These heartwarming, literary characters are what we remember to this day.
June G. Wigfall
After graduating from Lincoln High School in Jersey City (1961), Bloomfield College (1968), marriage and the birth of her daughter, Ms. Wigfall attended graduate school at New Jersey City University, formerly Jersey City State College, and graduated with an M.A. in Student Personnel Services in 1976. Teaching always interested her because, as a youngster, she aspired to be an actress. However, her mother believed that acting was impractical. “A job as a teacher is a skill, which would better provide food for your table,” she claimed.
Ms. Wigfall started her teaching career at West Side High School in the Newark School District in 1968, and found that she loved to read about the many adventures students had to tell, especially their tales of family and friends; their fears - the times when they were caught in situations, and the ultimate reprisals they had to suffer. Inner-city schools are filled with many students who are humorous, and she believed the greatest joy is when these humorous experiences accompany and assist them in learning. This period in their lives proves to be a great time to learn new vocabulary, new ways of expression, and subsequently new ways to share.
When Ms. Wigfall was promoted to Department Chairperson of English at Weequahic High School in 1979, she viewed many types of teaching and learning. The best classes which she observed were the ones to which she was invited, because it was there where she witnessed excellent teacher preparation and management, strong student engagement, and lots of smiles from students while learning. She retired in 2000, and since then has taught English at an after-school program, observed student teachers in several public and parochial schools for a noted university, and was a member of a writer’s club, The Write Stuff, in Montclair. Ms. Wigfall still enjoys meeting people who love to learn.
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