Archives For Legacy

Teaching Kids to Write

November 20, 2018 — 12 Comments

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My grandkids have stunned me with their enthusiasm for writing. And all it took to inspire them was a very simple activity.

I invited our ten youngest grandchildren (aged 4 to 12) to write their own family newspaper. Although I devised our family publication myself, I’ve since learned that there are abundant resources—albeit of vastly different qualities—available online. You’ll find some links below.

The first challenge was to explain to them what a newspaper is. The irony is not lost on me that none of our four families currently subscribe to daily papers. It was more difficult than I anticipated to explain to all of the novice journalists precisely what newspapers are. I use the present tense, because the medium is not quite obsolete, despite the downward trajectory of most local papers. As an editorial in the Washington Post said this year, “newspapers have been dying in slow motion for two decades now.” And it seems to many the process is accelerating.

Nevertheless, as the proud veteran of high school and college newspaper staffs, and a former contributor to my hometown weekly, I believe such publications are ideal for developing writing skills. The passion overflowing from my writing bullpen has vastly exceeded my expectations, confirming my impression.

While it took a while to gather enough submissions for the first issue, they rushed to fill the second. When each was “published,” all of the kids immediately sat down and read their personal issues from proverbial cover to cover.

My endorsement of family newspapers does not carry over to the commercial press. Sadly, too much of what is presented as “objective reporting,” is patently subjective. I debated my journalism profs about that matter forty years ago, and the evidence has only grown more visible. I also agree with C.S. Lewis’ opinion that the majority of what passes for “news,” is superfluous or sensationalistic.

Even in peacetime I think those are very wrong who say that schoolboys should be encouraged to read the newspapers. Nearly all that a boy reads there in his teens will be seen before he is twenty to have been false in emphasis and interpretation, if not in fact as well, and most of it will have lost all importance.

Most of what he remembers he will therefore have to unlearn; and he will probably have acquired an incurable taste for vulgarity and sensationalism and the fatal habit of fluttering from paragraph to paragraph to learn how an actress has been divorced in California, a train derailed in France, and quadruplets born in New Zealand. (Surprised by Joy)

Perhaps ironically, Lewis did not hesitate to publish his own writings in worthy newspapers. Most notably, The Guardian (an Anglican newspaper printed between 1846 and 1951) published several of his essays. In addition, they presented to the world (in serial form) both The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce.

For an interesting discussion about C.S. Lewis’ opinion that newspapers are inadequate tools for assessing truth, check out this article. The author draws a valid distinction between Lewis’ example and the current state of affairs where “we judge too quickly and offer grace much too slowly.”

Elements of Our Family’s Publishing Experiment

After describing to the kids what newspapers are, I provided them with a list of potential subject matter. In addition to “standard” sorts of news and reviews, I added things like “sermon notes,” fiction, and comics.

I encourage them to illustrate their own articles, and the first two issues have been graced with images of dogs, horses, King Tut, and a Turtle Bear (who served as a weather forecaster). Each child contributes at their own level, and the cousins commend each other on their efforts.

We’re early in the stages of teaching the kids about rewriting and self-editing. Depending on the situation, either their parents or the editorial staff (grandma and grandpa) assist them with learning to revise their own work.

I must confess that one of the most fun aspects of Curious Cousins Courier is my ability, as the editor, to creatively engage in a bit of editorial privilege. The primary example comes in a “Family Heritage” feature that I write for each issue.

In the first, we considered the life of the cousins’ great-great-grandfather who immigrated from Norway in 1912. Julius Olaissen Næsbø unsuccessfully attempted to travel on the RMS Titanic, but the steerage class was full, and he had to settle for a departure several weeks later. The fringe benefit of reading about “Grandpa Nesby” came in learning that other languages include letters in their alphabet that are foreign to us in the States.

In the second issue, I pointed the children to one of their ancestors who helped establish our country itself, during the Revolutionary War. Joseph Johnston was born in Ireland, and was a sergeant in the Fifth Virginia Regiment.

The importance of cementing family bonds—and instilling a healthy awareness of our family’s legacy—is extremely important to me. I suppose that is due in large part to spending the first third of my life as a nomadic military kid. Yet that sense of disconnectedness from my extended family did not prevent me from inflicting the same itinerant military lifestyle on my own children. But that’s a story for another day.

If you help to establish a newspaper or journal for members of your own family, I trust you will find it as rewarding as I do.

A Few Online Resources

Get the Scoop: Create a Family Newspaper,” from Education.com

How to Make a Family Newspaper,” from wikiHow.

The 5 Ws are noted on ImaginationSoup. (In case you’ve forgotten, they’re who, what, where, when and why.)

More developed thoughts, with an eye toward the classroom, are available at The CurriculumCorner.

Writing Awards

April 21, 2012 — 8 Comments

It’s good to be appreciated. For a lesson I’m teaching later this week I’ll be using a profound song entitled “Legacy,” which was written and recorded by Nichole Nordeman. I’ll place a link for it at the end of the blog. (Wouldn’t want you to get distracted and not return to this page!)

Nordeman’s anointed words remind us to treasure what is truly important, and to consciously ponder the legacy we desire to leave when we’ve breathed our last. She acknowledges that it’s nice to receive praise, but suggests there is so much more to life. What follows is only a portion of her inspiring ballad.

I don’t mind if you’ve got something nice to say about me

And I enjoy an accolade like the rest

You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery

Of all who’s who and so-n-so’s that used to be the best

At such’n’such . . . it wouldn’t matter much

I won’t lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights

We all need an ‘’Atta boy’ or ‘’Atta girl’

But in the end I’d like to hang my hat on more besides

The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to You enough

To make a mark on things?

I want to leave an offering

A child of mercy and grace

   who
 blessed your name unapologetically

And leave that kind of legacy

It’s in this context that I mention I’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award. It’s nice that someone wanted to pat me on the back this way, and I like the title of the award, so I decided to accept it. I guess the confirmation of your acceptance (and the actual awarding of the accolade) happens automatically (but presumably not supernaturally) when you post seven points that illustrate your personal versatility. I’ll do that, momentarily.

The gifted C.S. Lewis was noted for his own versatility. Few other people have excelled in such diverse literary fields. Very few. Lewis was a brilliant author of fiction and nonfiction. He was a preeminent literary historian and critic. Much of his poetry was inspiring, although it never attained the measure he desired for it. He is also one of the most highly regarded Christian apologists of the twentieth century. He had few literary equals. Very few.

While Lewis was the recipient of various awards, and accepted them gracefully, he remained quite modest. (One of his most noteworthy honors came in the Carnegie Award, the United Kingdom’s highest honour for children’s literature.) The desire for accolades didn’t sway Lewis from his course.

Likewise, I’ll remain on my course, and not pursue awards or praise. That said, I am pleased to see so many people enjoying this modest blog. (Thank you all!)

Seven quick things about me:

1. I was Thespian of the Year my senior year in high school.

2. While stationed in the Republic of Korea during the 1988 Olympics I watched the United States fall before the Soviet Union in soccer.

3. Although I never played a musical instrument in high school, I joined the University of Washington Husky Marching Band while in college.

4. First car was a 1961 MGA sports car. I’m not quite as old as that sounds; it was already a classic when I got it. (Sure wish I still had it today.)

5. I wrote a Master’s Thesis on the Odes of Solomon, the first Christian hymnal.

6. I once served on a Christian conference committee with Jim Otto, the greatest center ever to play in the NFL.

7. Speaking of awards, in addition to Air Force and Joint medals, during my military career I also received medals from the United States Army and the United States Navy.

P.S. – I promised a link to a Nichole Nordeman’s ballad “Legacy.” Here it is: Legacy by Nichole Nordeman.