William Zinnsser puts it quite well in this essay for The American Scholar:
Men and women of letters were the willing workhorses of the literary enterprise; they saw that the caravan kept moving. They formed committees and juries and gave awards and held readings and signings and receptions and wrote critical essays for obscure quarterlies...On today’s landscape I don’t see many men and women of letters; the apparatus that supported their world has collapsed.
Still, I long for those days, not unlike a journalist for the old presses, or a teacher for their classroom before schools crumbled into obsolescence and irrelevance.
Every year, there are fewer teachers who have known the experience of confidently entering their classrooms with creativity, passion and the freedom to replace their textbooks with learning experiences that are unique, personal, powerful and authentic. The rest have only known themselves as teacher-technicians, checking off standards and managing instruction by crunching data. (Source: 2cents)Like others who walk the halls, one monitor among a multitude of policy guardians, I long for the open page, the quiet nook, the quest for words, rather than letters that belie their purpose...
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