School Visit

Last week I paid a visit to St. Gabriel's, the school where my sister teaches grade 5/6, and did a Q & A about BECOMING DARKNESS and the whole experience of getting the book published. It was an entertaining hour and a half, with a lot of great questions from some of the students -- this despite it being their last day of school.

My sister has done an incredible job of inspiring many of these kids to write in ways they had never believed they could before, and some of them definitely have the potential to go on to careers in writing if they stick with it. There were a few who were particularly enthusiastic and excited to meet someone who had actually been published the traditional way, and I did my best to encourage them -- even though I know from personal experience that it can be a tough slog in this industry and that in the years ahead it will only likely get even harder.

One girl -- Olivia -- very much impressed me with her desire to learn more about the whole process and her determination to continue writing. It is so incredible to meet young people like this who show such a passion for books and a yearning to go beyond being just a reader. They are driven to create, and I credit my sister, Carolyn, for engendering that in her students. She is proof positive that a good teacher can help mold the movers and shakers of tomorrow, and I think it a sad thing indeed that today far too many people simply do not appreciate just how essential teachers are to our future.

I don't think those who make it in this world give enough credit to the people who taught them and gave them the foundation upon which to achieve the successes they have enjoyed. No matter how much we may think we have done something all by ourselves, if we are honest and look back upon the journey, it's almost certain we'll see the path littered with signposts marking those who aided or influenced us in some way or another. Among those are the teachers who opened our eyes to possibilities, who inspired us and made the whole process of learning one of boundless exploration and an endless quest for knowledge. These are the people who made us realize that the story doesn't end when the last page is read, that it can go on forever, so long as we have the will to make it so.

I cannot imagine a world without teachers; it would be truly dystopian. The sooner we, as a society, get back to realizing just how essential teachers are to the fundamentals of civilization and the continued march into tomorrow, the better off we'll all be. Countries that value education (in its many guises) are the ones that are most likely to succeed in an ever competitive world. Education should be one of the -- if not the -- most important pillars of any country's strategies for the future wellbeing of its people. If education is weak, then there is a risk that sooner or later (most likely sooner) the whole thing will come crashing down and the population as a whole will suffer the consequences.

I wrote a book that I hope will make readers think about the world they live in and the choices that must sometimes be made for the betterment of society. But every day teachers instill in young people lessons for the life they're now living and the one they will live in the days and years ahead. We should never make the mistake of undervaluing this; and we should never lose sight of the fact that without it, we risk becoming rudderless and subject to the sort of depradations that have beggared many a nation and its peoples and seen them suffer great misery.

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