I was sitting at the front desk of Massey Hall working as a Resident Assistant spending my summer on campus. As I flipped between the social networking tabs on my laptop–avoiding even a moment’s glance at my Western Civilization courses—I stumbled upon a Haiku contest hosted by one of the Twitter handles I follow, USA TODAY Opinion (@USATOpinion). USA TODAY’s editorial section was hosting a contest entitled “Haiku Your View,” and the basic rules of entry were simple: 1. Entries must be a true haiku with 5 syllables on the 1st line, 7 syllables on the 2nd line, and 5 syllables on the 3rd line, 2. Entries must be sent in using the hashtag #usatodayhaiku, 3. Entries must comment on a recent international or national news event. The contest guidelines were easy enough, so I read on to find out that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners all would be published in an edition of the USA TODAY along with being mentioned on the Twitter and Facebook pages of USA TODAY Opinion; and as an added bonus the 1st place winner would receive a Kindle Fire HD valued at $269.00. The mentions alone were enough to persuade me to enter, so I looked for the entry deadline and found that the contest would end in 30 minutes.
I quickly scribbled down some words on my notepad and checked to make sure what I wrote down met the guidelines of a true haiku and then I sent a tweet to @USATOpinion with the required hashtag. The finished product was a simple haiku that was really just a summation of my thoughts on an underlying issue that was intertwined in many of the major international and national news stories of 2013:
More school tragedies,
Teachers are undervalued,
Future in their hands.
Each entry was judged by the USA TODAY judges on the following criteria: 25% creativity and originality of haiku, 25% content/writing of haiku, 25% relevance to recent news event/contest theme, and 25% on clarity of opinion. I was selected by the USA TODAY judges to be in the Top 10 out of hundreds of entries. Then a few days later my haiku was selected by popular vote of the readers and I claimed the #1 spot. The subject of my simple haiku was a reflection of my choice to study to become an English educator but the combination of these 60+ characters was a deeper reflection. Our professors, teachers, and adjuncts—no matter what title they hold—are all educators and they are usually the most undervalued resources of the institution to which they belong. Much of the “education reform” that is taking place today seems to be against both the educators and the students working only in the favor of government. The tragedies that occur in our schools are not just limited to the ones that are destructive and physical; educational tragedies occur daily in our classrooms limiting the individual creative potential of our students.
USA TODAY Story Link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/05/03/haiku-contest-view/2131207/