The Notebook

Literacy is not to concern itself with superfluous matters — it is to help us become more fully human. And what about doctors, lawyers, engineers, salesmen, teachers, masons, pipefitters, carpenters, and so forth? well, aren’t these human activities also? Aren’t there ideas connected with each of these human strivings? Again, for education is is not enough simply for one to be whatever he is, one must be literate concerning what he is, what his striving is. And being literate about one’s strivings is to be seen as an additional task to the strivings: we try to be good friends to our friends whether we are literate or not, and it is this striving that gives its import to education.

— “The Notebook,” an essay by Richard A Wood, philosophy professor at Northern Arizona University

The above quotation was from an essay about how essential it is to read great writers and thinkers and be helped by them if we are to be educated, and how a notebook can be the testing ground for our understanding. If I cannot write about how I understand something or someone, chances are I don’t yet understand them. Still, I might have the raw materials from which to form an understanding and at the same time articulate it, and can work that out in a notebook. Something similar may be said for blogs, only there we have to be a bit more careful, because our friends, family — and others? — may read our thoughts and be influenced by them, or object to them, or in some other way respond in ways we can’t know. But they might also be willing to help us, which is a great benefit of a blog over a notebook.


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