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"Deeper Reading": Educating Kids from the Inside Out

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The best observation—let’s not call it an evaluation, please—came from a colleague as he walked by my room while the class was reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull and said in his own self-amazement: “It looks like they’re praying in a synagogue,” which cracked me up for unknown reasons, at least, until I thought about it for a second, and said to myself, “Yes, this is what the solitude, concentration, reflection, feeling, thinking, visualizing, creating, re-creating, contemplating, and motivation do to the reader who reads deeply, passionately, only to become lost inside the book and herself—reading almost seems like a religious experience, ha, ha…

So let me now apply an approach to the process of reading and reading life experiences.  How deep can a reader go when reading novels, short stories, poetry, essays, memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, plays, myths, fables, fairy tales, history, science, and math books, and even tweets? 

I believe pretty deep, serious, and focused, but at the same time of this involvement and evolvement, readers can have fun alone in solitude taking a “see cruise” along the landscape of mind, body, and imagination, the latter I sometimes call a “self-amusement park.”

Read the following thoughts, ideas, reflections, and experiences in the mythology, magic, and mystery of my inner reading world and contemplate them for a moment.  When you stop ruminating on these concepts about mindful reading, try adding them up in your head: What have they triggered?  What do they leave you thinking, feeling, recollecting, and experiencing?


  • Everything you read becomes a part of you, but hey, what if I read a lot of books, big books with hundreds of pages, and all those mind-pictures, triggered feelings and thoughts, the creativity, all that self-talk about what I’m reading, I think I’m going to fill up like a hot-air balloon and drift off into outer space, no, check that, inner space, deep inside, but loving every minute of it, because I’m never alone in my solitude, I’m not afraid to be alone by my self reading a book.


  • Create your mind’s magic reading theater and put the following inside: an inner eye to see the words translated into mind-pictures, an imaginary big screen TV to view the dazzling mind movies percolating with feelings, thoughts, and real-life experiences, and don’t forget the silent, inner reading voice that makes the show possible, and the receiver or imaginary inner ear listening to these “talkies.”  With a theater like this you’ll be reading-in-the-zone every time you pick up a book, so let the magic and mystery begin…


  • If it takes a lifetime to create a lifelong or leisure-time reader, so make sure that wherever and wherever you read, you’re in there, in present time, and changing the words into mental images.  You are the avatar controlling your ship, yes, your see cruise, a voyage to ultimate possibilities, islands of sights, sounds, feelings, meanings, hidden worlds, unknown universes, known universes, experiences, dreams, fantasies, and reflections, so wake up and read, wake up and read—deeper, deeper, deeper…


  • And then again you might begin to wonder, how can reading bring you peace, quiet, and freedom, how can that happen with everything going on, all the pictures, emotions, ideas, self-talk, inner reading voices, imaginary inner ears listening to the sounds/words being read silently, and imaginary TV screens, it seems like there’s just too much going on at once and you’re getting lost in the maze, this whirlwind of inner life experiences, it seems too much to handle for one person sitting alone inside herself, but that is the crucial question, where you, as the reader, must ask yourself, whether or not you can be alone-by-your-self, in a peaceful, mindful state, prepared to read-between-the-lines, re-create the writer’s creative imagination, stay balanced and letting any distractions go in and then out, without drowning in your self-entertaining deep see-cruise.


  • Motivate yourself to read from the inside out, but what if you have no “inside,” you can’t see in, your imagination is all outside in the video, DVD, computer, and electro-techno game worlds, and now you’re faced with a huge crisis: how do you retrieve your imagination if you left it on a TV or movie screen, what do you do to retrieve your inside world, your self, and creativity back so you can return to a place you once knew, only for it to become a paradise lost.



  • Practice visualization one-step-at-a-time, this image-making process will help you re-discover your imagination and all its galaxies, the mental stuff, emotions, and inside lives, places, kingdoms, and people, so find your self, who you are, what makes you you, and when sitting alone to read a book, you won’t feel alone, you know there’s someone with you, along with the book talking to you and describing its life, and when you realize these things, you’ll know that communication has begun between human- and-thing, where you transformed yourself into a reader with a real inside world, the emptiness has been unloaded, you’re shaking your head to the side, letting all the nothingness float away into outer space, leaving inner space to explore and discover your reading self…















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Jeffrey Pflaum has been an inner-city elementary school teacher in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York, for thirty-four years (NYCDOE, retired in 2002). He worked as a creative writing, whole language, social studies, gifted/talented, physical education, and mentor teacher in grades K – 6 and special education. Pflaum coached middle school boys and girls basketball teams and one of his players became coach of the Pace University team. Tennis was also taught on the elementary school level to lower grade kids as part of the NY Junior Tennis League Program founded by Arthur Ashe.

Pflaum considers himself a teacher-developer-researcher experimentalist who created successful education projects in emotional intelligence, social and emotional learning, reading, writing, poetry, thinking, creativity, vocabulary expansion, concentration, and intra- and interpersonal communication skills. He has written articles for professional newspapers and publications about his curricula. Various programs appeared on web sites such as ERIC and CASEL/Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning (“Experiences, Reflections, and Insights”).

One program was featured at the International National Council of Teachers of English at NYU as one of the best examples of English Language Arts in the NYC Public Schools, K – 12. His students’ poetry and prose have been published in college, writers’, gifted secondary, and children’s literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and by major commercial book publishers; read on public radio (Poetry-In-The-Morning, WNYE-FM, sponsored by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative/NYC); and, won honors and awards from PBS, Channel Thirteen/NYC. One student, Noel “Speedy” Mercado, became a top NYC disc jockey on WKTU-FM.

Pflaum published an inspirational book about adolescent reading lives titled MOTIVATING TEEN AND PRETEEN READERS: HOW TEACHERS AND PARENTS CAN LEAD THE WAY (Rowman & Littlefield Education). For book reviews, go to http://www.examiner.com/review/motivating-your-kids-to-read to see Kecia Burcham's response to the book, and also, The Teachers College Record for Karen Polk's insightful article. For Karen Polk's review (8/24/12), from the Teachers College Record, google "MOTIVATING TEEN AND PRETEEN READERS - Teachers College Record."

Go to www.JeffreyPflaum.com for more articles on "Contemplation Writing," Meditative Writing Ideas, Internet radio interviews, published student poetry, and newspaper articles about his book on motivating adolescent readers and Inner Cities Arts Project. His recent interviews on Contemplation Writing can be found at these "Pure Imagination" links: http://prn.fm/2012/07/14/pure-imagination-071312 and Pure Imagination - 07/13/12 | Progressive Radio Network. A second interview on "Connect With Julianna" (Toginet Radio Network) about "Contemplation" or "Music" Writing can be found at these links: http://bit.ly/iTFbk7 and http://bit.ly/t5FA0W; or, Connect with Creative Educator and Author, Jeffrey Pflaum.

Pflaum is currently a regular blogger on The BAM Radio Network's blog, ED Words, where posts about a plethora of his projects can be found at: www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/blogger/listings/jeffpaul. Also, he is a contributing writer for EDUCATION VIEWS at: www.educatnviews.org/author/jeffreypflaum/

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Guest Monday, 22 July 2019