Most students would not look forward to starting their mornings with a teacher's hour-long lecture. Mr. Kaufman's honors World History class in tenth grade was the exception.
What made Mr. Kaufman's daily lectures so compelling was not their factual depth, but how they forced me to look at world affairs and current events with an entirely new perspective. I had always looked at the headlines on CNN and the New York Times impersonally.
After a year of Mr. Kaufman's insights into the past, I now understand how the events of centuries ago, the topics of the lectures, are interconnected with our world today. I am also aware of how enormous an impact my generation's decisions will have on the future.
Still, it is not Mr. Kaufman's lessons that make his class infamous throughout Weston High School; it is the lengthy, in-depth monthly research papers. Before my sophomore year, the idea of writing was a chore. In the beginning, I was in the majority of students who dreaded each upcoming "Kaufman Paper."
I could have never imagined the tremendous feeling of emptiness when I typed the terminating period on the final paper in June 2003. At this point I had discovered a passion for writing and realized my dream was to pursue a career in journalism. Mr. Kaufman's class not only heightened my appreciation for writing but also sharpened my skills, giving me the confidence to express my ideas and those of others in a clear, succinct, yet distinctive style. It has been reflected in my numerous newspaper articles, magazine columns, and even an award-winning essay.
In the beginning I found it ironic that a history professor sparked this love of writing. Through studying world events, however, I realized the power of the written word. In fact, writing is history. Writing chronicles civilization's progressions and setbacks. It allows information to be transmitted from generation to generation - century to century. Writing unites and divides. It can rally masses of people behind a common cause and has done so throughout political and religious history. Writing is the freest form of personal expression. There are words for every human emotion. Through the written word, one can convey passion, hatred and love.
The greatest lesson Mr. Kaufman taught me was that history is not about what is written but how it is written. History is selectively recorded based on the writer’s biases and interpretations. Through Mr. Kaufman's critiques, I learned how crucial word choice is in articulating a point. I learned that words do not simply tell a story; they capture the moment, illuminating its sights, sounds, and sensations.
I thank Mr. Kaufman for not only giving me the tools and my passion for writing, but also the skills I need to make the same impression on others that he made on me. Long after we are gone, our legacy will live on through our writings and what is written about us.