One of the things that readers tend to expect from a blog, and an element that often colors their perceptions of its quality, is
whether or not the blog’s creators are posting on a regular basis. And rightly so; after all, who can maintain interest in a blog or website with content that never changes? And with that in mind, both of us—Tedrowe and Marcia—feel compelled to offer an apology to our readers for our somewhat sporadic blog spots as of late. But rather than offering a laundry list of excuses, along the lines of “the dog ate my homework,” we can say with confidence that if the blog has taken a temporary back seat, it is for a good reason.
As you may or may not know, Marcia is the editor of AppleSeeds magazine, which is read by kids ages 6-10, with every issue revolving around a specific theme. She stepped into this position last spring, but as magazines are customarily created beginning almost a year before their actual print date, she inherited themes that she did not initiate. But now she has reached the point where she has the heady experience of deciding on themes and content on her own for the magazine.
The theme of Marcia’s inaugural issue is on the world of opera, where the goal is to bring kids into that world through the written word, multimedia, and relationship building with those in the field. A strategy is to engage kids with “Opera Heroes,” which we define as having both the wonderment of superb talent and extraordinarily good hearts. The aim is create an all-art oasis that inspires kids with text, sound, and the visual arts, where we engage in the good old fashioned virtue of captivating word painting that draws readers into a great journey.
But, sobering moral problematics surfaced as we delved into the meaning of this project. It would be easy to pump out a magazine issue on opera. Stock photos and stories abound, and little original writing needs to be done. Publishing houses can actually be punished by challenging our kids to think beyond, and magazines in general have been pushed to focus more on graphic enticements. But, how are we cheating kids of greater riches when we produce such a publication? Or more generally, when is our guidance enriching children’s lives, and when is it perhaps impoverishing them?
Marcia had no choice but to starting tackling these questions. In her case, a litany of equally haunting questions surfaced: When can multimedia enhance children’s learning experience and when does it thwart the mastery of reading? Should we acquiesce to market consumer demands of artistic relativism, or do believe there is “high culture” that we have an ethical responsibility to explore and engage with? How do we rejuvenate the love for complex, rich writing? The United States ranks 50th in the world regarding literacy, most magazines and newspapers are written at a 6 grade reading level, and the top 40 books high school teens are reading are at a 5.3 grade reading level. Can we see such shameful statistics as anything but societal impoverishment? Should not everyone’s work be to change this?
A hidden blessing in challenges is that we are offered an opportunity to explore our core values. This sobering and daunting project hardened us to the following: To love our children is to meaningfully and continuously engage them in the world of art – in all its complexity. Our aim is to enrich our children, not impoverish them, and our goal is to push back against the “dumbing down” of our kids. We do not want to live in a banal world, and Gnostic Green speaks against this. It is immoral for us to not want the same for our children.
If we were to make a statement about what a quality post is for us, it is about being, being conscious, and writing consciously. Our work with Gnostic Green functions on two levels: First, we engage in a dialectal if not Socratic process of working towards our inner epiphany on a topic. And only after we have reached a place of resonance can we then work on the process of conveyance. We feel grateful when we earnestly convey thoughtfulness, meaningfulness, and an opportunity for us all to learn together. This work is generated from a spirit of love.
Thank you for joining us on this journey, and accepting our need to be slow. Thank you for supporting us with our moral issue on opera and children. We will continue to post on the process of creating this issue as it unfolds. We are very, very grateful for the explosion of readers globally that have shown interest in our topics.
Tedrowe and Marcia