Congratulations, you’re part of the minority. If you didn’t know, reading has always been a minority occupation. Drop a few books out on the sidewalk on a busy NYC street, leave them there, and see how many people pick any of them up or even look through them. You’ll get a few, but it won’t be many. Replace that book with an iPhone or diamond. Congratulations, you just started a riot. The difference between the book and the iPhone is similar to a portrait and a photograph. A photograph is a click, and there’s the image. On the other hand, a portrait is something that can be layered upon and layered, worked on, and allows you to think, and then rethink, and then again. That doesn’t mean you can’t gain an educational utility from these photographs, but there’s more depth to the portrait.
The portrait starts out as a blank canvas until it’s explored. You start this exploration by reading. When you read, something grips you. Something you want to investigate. You learn more and more about this topic or problem and start to gain the curiosity to contribute to it. That’s when the writing kicks in, and you pick up the paintbrush and finally touch the canvas. Writing is formalized thinking. You have your investigative topic, you start to summarize what you’re learning, iron out the points you agree with, the contradictions, and elegantly formulate your ideas through proper word choice, phrasing, sentence structure, and organization so your paragraphs are in proper order and sequencing so you have a coherent explanation or argument. As you do this, you’re already at the peak of your self. You’re integrating and fully engaging with your own personality by putting yourself straight and learning to critically think, honing your words, discovering what you believe to be true. This is when you start to speak and others start to listen. You start to explain yourself and your ideas to others and they respond with their thoughts or criticisms, helping you improve your self even more because someone else has now contributed to this investigation. Your investigation may not end either, meaning your canvas may not be finished. But that’s okay because sometimes it’s more important to be in love with the process than the end prize.
My name is Brandon Hernandez and I’m a second-year English Language Arts teacher for the Department of Education. Queens College guided me through my never-ending portrait. Each English course had a set of ideas to study and a way for students, and educators, to articulate those ideas through a series of reading, writing, speaking and listening. It wasn’t just a regurgitation of ideas, but an in-depth analysis of how we as individuals can strategize and entice one another to break down these ideas with a vision moving forward – which is the core of the humanities. Each course helped me become a better educator by illustrating what it truly means to think crucially. I was able to transfer the skills learned from these courses to a younger crowd of High School students by developing curricula around works I’ve explored such as Emerson, Poe, Shakespeare, and countless others. You may think, what good is a humanities degree? But once you engage in the courses at Queens College, you’ll soon realize that you will come out with an intensified ability to read, write, speak, listen, and think. The zenith of your being.
So, if there’s one piece of advice I can give, it would be: Continue to read. Continue to write. Continue to speak. Continue to listen. And, more importantly, continue to think.
Connect with Brandon on Linked-In.