On May 25th, Rebecca Kaplan of National Journal published a story on Michelle Obama’s recent visit with students from the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School for Girls. In the article, Mrs. Obama shares with the students the same advice she gives her daughters to “help them achieve their goals”:
Read, write, read, read. If the president were here--one of his greatest strengths is reading. That's one of the reasons why he's a good communicator, why he's such a good writer. He's a voracious reader. So we're trying to get our girls, no matter what, to just be--to love reading and to challenge themselves with what they read, and not just read the gossip books but to push themselves beyond and do things that maybe they wouldn't do. So I would encourage you all to read, read, read. Just keep reading. And writing is another skill. It's practice. It's practice. The more you write, the better you get. Drafts--our kids are learning the first draft means nothing. You're going to do seven, 10 drafts. That's writing, it's not failure, it's not the teacher not liking you because it's all marked up in red. When you get to be a good writer, you mark your own stuff in red, and you rewrite, and you rewrite, and you rewrite. That's what writing is.
According to Mrs. Obama, applying the adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ to one’s writing and reading is the path to success. After all, this is the path Barak Obama followed all the way to the White House. It also helped him earn recognition as one the best orators of our time.Her words also bring to mind another tried and true axiom, ‘writing is rewriting.’ Revisions are a necessary part of the writing process, and Mrs. Obama intimates that one need not wait for a second pair of eyes to make improvements. When self-editing drafts, some suggest that reading the paper backwards or returning to it after a couple of days helps one to gain fresh insight. Careful re-writes of a paper or project can be the difference between an ordinary piece of work and a work that really captivates the reader.
Now would be the perfect time to ask yourself what books should go on your summer reading list… and then add a few more! If there is room for one more maxim on this page, it is that ‘mom knows best.’ Following the parental advice of Michelle Obama to write, rewrite, read, and read some more can only lead to more engaged, knowledgeable, and skilled citizens of the world.
Complete article available here.
*Special thanks to visiting faculty member, Jill Joachim, for finding and sharing this National Journal article.