Writing Is Thinking Empowers Students to Wield the Power Tools

The following is Katy Ramón’s elaborated speech for the WritingisThinking.org Leadership Lab hosted by Teach to Leadthe US Department of Education, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards on Friday, June 26th, 2015. 

“The human condition is the heart of it all.” 
-Juan Felipé Herrera

pencil_and_paper_by_rainsage-d3dbu30

Recently, Juan Felipé Herrera was nominated to be the first Latino U.S. Poet Laureate.  My heart burst when I read this news.  Juan Felipé Herrera is the embodiment of the vision I have for my students.  Mr. Herrera’s story is a humble beginning, much like many of my students.  He learned to wield power tools: a pencil and piece of paper.  And from that, he became a master of poetry, the U.S. Poet Laureate.  I want this for my students.  It is with this inspiration that I wrote this poem.

Part One

Students
Put at a disadvantage
Not disadvantaged
Starving to make a change
Educators
Teach the power tools
Make that difference

Tiana
She has a way to make money
Before school she goes to Stop and Shop
Self serve check out bays
In the shadows standing shyly
Fidgeting, gazing away
They always forget their change
Run after them, try to give it back
Well thank you!
But keep it child

Pedro
Baseball air inflates his lungs
Heart beat base hits
Boy from the projects
The team is too expensive
Internet and a computer at home?
Pfft, jokes

Students
Put at a disadvantage
Not disadvantaged
Starving to make a change
Educators
Teach the power tools
Make that difference

Part Two

Me
I’m a numbers girl
Proudly taking after grandpa Dallas
Known for hiring two accountants
Even though he’d do the math himself
He didn’t make mistakes, but he sure found theirs

Writing wasn’t my thing, not at all
They asked me, so what’s your point?
In college, hours at the writing center
They thought I didn’t know what I was talking about
Because they couldn’t look at the calculations
And just understand

I knew math
Couldn't write
Nobody listened

My sister
Her writing a fine calligraphy pen
Everybody remarks on her brilliant intellect  
She knows nothing of factoring trinomials  
Or analyzing correlation with a best fit line
But when she writes about math
Everyone nods, agrees
As if Truth had finally arrived

She didn't know math
But she could write
So people listened

Write well to get your point across
Respected, educated opinion
Be a part of the decision-making process
The conversation
Justice

Write well for a clear math mind
Deepened, nuanced understanding
Break through the shallow ice
Enter the expansive depth  
Of knowledge

Students
Put at a disadvantage
Not disadvantaged
Starving to make a change
Educators
Teach the power tools
Make that difference

One thought on “Writing Is Thinking Empowers Students to Wield the Power Tools

  1. Katy has taught us that mathematicians can also be great writers, but now she has shown us that mathematicians can also be great poets. Inspiring..

    Liked by 2 people

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