Knowledge is gift that will last lifetime

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Each of us is the product of the effort other people put into helping us become who we are.

From the moment we are born, we are dependent upon other people to help us grow, learn and develop, and that experience is a lifelong process.

The moment we cease to learn or think we know everything, we cease to grow and progress.

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At a certain point in our educations and developments, we have to take responsibility for that learning process and seek out new information and answers on our own, but to get to that point we must have been cultivated and developed by people around us.

On Monday, I had the opportunity to help young students in their quests to learn and grow when I helped deliver dictionaries to third-graders at Gilmer McLaurin Elementary School as part of the Rotary Club of Natchez’s focus on an education and literacy project.

Each year, the Rotary Club of Natchez gives every third-grader his or her own dictionary to help them develop literacy skills, and Monday was my first time participating in the program.

The experience was inspirational in not only seeing the children light up when they learned they would each be getting their own dictionary, but also in seeing them learn to use the dictionaries to look up the words we gave them: “Service” and “Beneficial.”

Some of the students were more advanced than others, but it was inspirational to see the proverbial light bulb go on in some of the students’ heads as they discovered how to look words up in the dictionaries, running through their “ABCs”.

I could not help but recall my own upbringing and learning experience, in which I developed a lifelong love of words and language.

I still have the first dictionary someone gave me when I was a child, and it still has my own chicken scratched name written on the inside title page.

I wonder, how many of the children my fellow Rotarians — Andrew Calvit, Suzanne Steckler, Russell Butts — and I gave dictionaries to on Monday, might one day learn to love words and language as much as I do.

I also wonder if any of them will go on to develop that love of language into a career of writing and editing as I did.

Regardless, one of the many great teachers I had in my life taught me that if you understand language, you could learn anything. In other words, a love and understanding of words is key to success in school, education and a successful career.

Lawyers, doctors, engineers, scientists, teachers, politicians, public relations specialists, marketing professionals, journalists, just about any career you can think of, the professionals must possess a command of language, both written and spoken, and an ability to read and comprehend written information.

Giving those third-graders their own dictionaries on Monday is a small part of their overall development, but I’m happy I played a part in their developments.

Maybe one day one or more of those young people will grow up, look at that dictionary on their bookshelf and remember how their understanding of words helped them along their life’s path to success.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or