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   billions of online authors, who are also instant pub- lishers, shape narratives that conform to less than 180-character formats and a binary language of like/ dislike, friend/unfriend, follow/unfollow, true/fake. Good writing and critical reading have become an- tidotes to the reductionistic online languages that blunt our humanity and blur our sense of shared history, culture and responsibility. “The topic ‘Why Reading Matters’ doesn’t scratch the surface of how interesting it is,” says Naomi.
Launched annually each fall, the essay contest was founded by the late George Henning-Ross, former FIS English teacher and a uniquely inspiring and piv- otal person in the life of many of his students and colleagues. Besides the personal joy of writing, and the growth involved in the effort to write well, writ- ing the winning entry yields other big benefits. “It’s a great asset for university entry – another feather inyourapplicationcap,”saysAodhnaitDonnelly,FIS Writing Center Coordinator.
After the submission deadline, IB teachers read all the entries and the winner is announced in the last assembly of the academic year. Winning is on par with sports prowess, potentially worthy of a college scholarship, and comes with a €1000 prize – a satis- fying reward and not a negligible sum to add on to college living funds, as Naomi did.“You earn it your- self, with your own work, and it’s a very different feel- ing from being given the money,” she says, adding “it was a straightforward bank transfer and it’s in my bank account. I’m saving it for living expenses – uni- versity in the United States is very expensive!”
Writing about “Why Reading Matters” matters a great deal because our times need good writing, writing built on a plurality of well formulated ideas that promotes critical reading and, implicitly, critical reasoning.
ored – I didn’t expect it! A lot of my friends are very good writers, so it was a fun thing to do, but I wasn’t expecting to win. I felt so grateful to the teachers who took the time to read it!”
The yearly “Why Reading Matters” essay contest is available to all FIS students in grades 10–12. The per- sonal rewards are big, but there’s more. Writing about “Why Reading Matters”matters a great deal because our times need good writing, writing built on a plu- rality of well formulated ideas that promotes critical reading and, implicitly, critical reasoning. Good writ- ing in our times is also activism: to preserve and pro- mote the nuanced complexity and wide range of our human understanding, emotions and societies, away from the reductionism that erases our history and our agency over our individual selves. To reinstate the enlightenment of Descartes “Cogito Ergo Sum” – I think, therefore I exist – we need good writers to summon its twin: “Lego Ergo Sum”. I read, therefore I exist. Or, more precisely: Lego Critico Ergo Sum. I read critically, therefore I exist.
Another win-win opportunity will be launched later this fall – so why not take it?
Winner of the 2018/19 George Henning-
Ross Essay Competition, Naomi, says: “Reading is
the key to understanding our past, our world, and ourselves.”
  Aiming to win was not Naomi’s main motivation to enter the competition and pride was not her first emo- tion upon hearing the good news. Her decision was based on a mix of passion and pragmatism: a clear win-win, risk-free proposition. “I enjoy writing, I had the time to write over the Winter Break, there was a potential winning benefit, and it didn’t take time from anything. It was a very clear choice. There was the opportunity – so why not take it?”Upon hearing the good news, Naomi felt humbled. “I felt so hon-
Maria Monteiro,
FIS Parent
To learn more about the FIS Writing Center’s competitions and to read Naomi’s winning essay scan the QR code
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