“The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge and the dissemination of truth.”
– John F. Kennedy
As a high school English teacher, I have more of an opportunity to write e-mails, letters of recommendations, and even a graphic organizer, but a lengthy, in depth paper is few and far between. I have an unusual take on writing because I don’t write–I teach it. My goal then, when it comes to writing is to facilitate it and help students or most of them, for the next stage in life, which is college. I do not teach students to write just because the Common Core State Standards says so. I do not teach them to write because in the state of Wyoming the ACT requires them to write. I teach them for the very reason Mr. Kennedy says so. I feel it is my responsibility to to advance knowledge and help my students disseminate truth. “Truth” is an interesting word; because I am an English teacher I love to look for word origins, and because I am a curious person, I like to see how other cultures view truth: etymologically speaking truth comes from the Proto-Germanic word treuwaz meaning having or characterizing good faith. In Hebrew it is emet, which is comprised of the first, middle, and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet; this implies that truth is how things were, are, and will be. It turns into a sense of “every when” as opposed to every where. In Greek interestingly enough it is etymos (where the word etymology derives its own etymology) meaning true, real, actual. In Latin truth is veritas who in Roman mythology gave birth to virtue.
Where am I going with this? Am I trying to show off my language skills? How does this relate to the John F. Kennedy quote? These are all fair questions. What I hope to say relies purely upon this word study and a new way of looking at genre. In my profession it is my responsibility to teach my students to read, speak, write, or in summary recognize truth. When they write, I want them to say what is right. I want them to disseminate what is actually being said, and in all languages, in all corners of this great earth, truth means what is real, right, proper, even can I say eternal? There is truth out there. Authors much smarter than me have said and continue to say and give mind-blowing advice, insight, council to any who will seek the truth while they read. In the end, I tell my students to pretend that people 50 years down the line will see what they wrote in high school English–try to make an impact in the lives of those people. Try to display truth in relationship to the genre presented by that particular author and give help to them who read it.
I want my students to know what truth is before they write. I want them to dynamically create an analysis that does not concern itself with traditional genre, but a new, powerful outlook on what is right and true based on principles of genre. Amy Devitt says in her article “Generalizing About Genre” “If genre not only responds to but also constructs recurring situation, then genre must be a dynamic rather than static concept.” In other words, or as I have come to understand it, that genre needs to match situation and see each situation for what it truly is, and I feel genre to be exactly as defined by Gunther Kress: “I treat genre as that category which realizes the social relations of the participants involved in the text as interaction. So, genre, which is essential to understanding truth depends upon understanding genre or the interactions of the “players” within the literature. They need to see as it actually is.
So, do I write in my profession? No. I do not necessarily write. I need to know how to write. I need to be confident that what I am doing is correct. But in the end, as John D. Haeger, the president of Northern Arizona University declares, “As faculty, staff, and students engage in scholarly and creative activity, we can apply, and in some cases commercialize, our academic inventions.”
Truth is available to all people. We just have to seek and become dynamic as we analyze and see things for what they truly are. As we do so, we begin to trust in genre and the situations it invents, the interactions that follow, and see the mind-blowing advice, insight, and council the authors give; this will eventually lead to individuals improving their lives and creating positive genre between those they come in contact with and be truthful, crucial examples of what truth is and what truth can do.