A calling ...

"We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims."

"Make the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological offense or the disadvantage of anyone."

- Buckminster Fuller

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Corrections and the spirit of Poetic License

I just got off the phone with my mother. She had important corrections to my earlier post on the Art of Gaman.  At my request, my mom will be writing a thoughtful response to correct what I have written and add to the narrative. I could not have hoped for a better response from a fully engaged reader.  I cannot wait to post her response!

Reading and writing and talking and getting all emotional about reading is what Poetic License is all about.  My purpose here is not to produce scholarly writing, my goal in blogging is to spark conversations about matters that I care about. The more conversations generated the better!

And spark a conversation the posting did!  My sister Dawn spoke to my cousin Rachel and my uncle Isamu spoke with my mom.   Isamu drove by my parents house today and debated my father's response that war is hell for over an hour.

At first, Isamu replied, "The only thing I remember is the dust."  Eventually, the posting sparked the memory of a long forgotten detail: "Were we in unit 32 at Tule Lake?" Isamu wondered. He immediately called my grandmother for confirmation.  She confirmed that Isamu's memory was correct.  According to my mom, my uncle Ken remembered more than his older brother did about the camps, so I can infer that Ken had also joined the conversation.

What does all this have to do about education.  Actually, everything.

The Art of Gaman Exhibit at the Renwick had it's intended purpose: it got people talking and thinking about how a group of people responded to suffering.  Exhibits like these are far more instructive than multiple choice oriented thinking (low level thinking).  Multiple choice tests do zero to generate any real interest or higher level thinking about history.  Attending the gallery with my family stoked my imagination just as visits to the Smithsonian throughout my life have seared memories, building background knowledge for everything I've ever read or written.

The late Professor Michael Foley, in his final lesson, used a hilariously elaborate ruse to teach his students an important lesson about historical scholarship (I'll share the joke he pulled on us upperclassmen some other time). Based on Professor Foley's final lesson (a practical joke about the real causes of the French Revolution), I derived my own philosophy of history in my last class at Georgetown University: History is not made by the people and events of history books, history is made by historians.  Bottom line: everybody has an agenda!  But I digress.

This morning, I jumped out of bed deciding that I needed to follow up with a post about the Otsuka side. Thankfully, when I'm ready to bang it out, I can borrow heavily from Rising Son in the West. The section is already fully researched and tightly written!

My grandmother, my mom warned in the strongest tone this evening, does not want to be interviewed.  I respect my grandmother's wishes to remain private, but I hope to somehow persuade my grandmother to share whatever she wants about her experiences with me before she's unable to share. She has a unique perspective that's worth sharing in some form or another, even if only in the form of historical fiction.

I wonder what questions I should ask if I get a chance to sit down with her  -- 97 going on 98, she is one of the last of the surviving Nissei.  What questions do other people have for this amazing woman? What if I get the chance to fly out to California and sip green tea with her? What would other people want to know?

In a perfect world, I would collaborate with my mother and an artist and/or other writers to produce a beautiful children's book about camp life from a child's perspective. Recently, I remember seeing a review of a children's book about Topaz that my mom told me was remarkably accurate in its portrayal of camp life.

All this thinking about writing this morning sparked an original idea of using gaming technology to develop a platform for shared writing. Wouldn't it be cool to use the best gaming technology to facilitate collaborative classroom Writing Circles analogous to Literacy Circles, with students in teams taking on roles such as the Director, Illustrator, Scribe, etc.? Instead of remaining passive consumers of information, students would become active participants in generating a response.  Possibly some kind of creative writing Wiki?

The je ne se qua of Poetic License is raw, consciously imperfect, purposely vague, purposeful writing.  If readers become engaged participants in the conversation, then I will have succeeded.