Monday Musings #13

Outback

(I started this on Monday. It took me a day to finish it haha!)

This is my first year teaching, and I have one big complaint to make:

Why do we have to raise kids to only be expository writers and not creative writers?

This is the biggest complaint of all teachers, right? We have to teach to a test, not teach our kids things they’ll use in real life. Not all kids are going to grow up to write academic papers in their career for their entire life.

Should students be writing expository often? Obviously. Most college writing is expository in nature and it should be mastered before you get there.

But how do we raise the next JK Rowling when creative writing
is barely touched in school?

When I was in school, our standardized test for writing was a personal narrative. My love for creative writing bloomed when I was in middle school because we were always writing creatively. Most of my “personal narratives” were completely made up. Because I had those opportunities to write and get feedback from my teachers, I wrote all the time.

I started doing NaNoWriMo in 9th grade. I won in 10th grade. I self-published my first novel (it’s terrible now, haha) in 12th grade. I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing.

All of this, for me, because I had so many opportunities for creative-type writing in school.

Now though? Well, my 7th grade students in Texas are testing on writing this year on their STAAR test. This test involves both a multiple choice section on revising and editing,  and a writing prompt that is expository. We only spend the first 8 or so weeks of the entire school year writing creatively. As well, after STAAR we have a short poetry unit.

But that’s it.

I had a student (one of my best) come in during tutoring this week and tell me that when she was in 5th grade, her goal in life was to be an author. She loved writing. But since then, she’s lost it. She doesn’t find herself writing as much now as she did then.

GUYS. THAT MADE ME SO SAD.

I found out that in 5th grade, not only did they do more creative writing, they also had a writing club that she attended. Right now my school does not have one of those. I REALLY want to start one, but I’m concerned with that work load being added on to the existing workload I already have. I’m a first year teacher, I have classes once a month for my certification, and I try so hard to not bring work home.

Can I handle the additional work it will take to start a creative writing club?

These kids need it. I know I of a few kids who would show up frequently (they ask me to read their stuff occasionally), so I don’t think I would be wasting my energy by any means. It would also look really good on my evaluation at the end of the year.

Will I start a creative writing club? Probably.  But it shouldn’t be on me to get these kids to love writing.

We need more creative writing in school. Let kids be kids. They love making up stories! I would be willing to bet that being allowed to have more opportunities for creative writing, more students would love writing, and their essays would be exponentially better.

I don’t just want to raise future doctors, lawyers and engineers. I want to also be able to help raise authors, poets and actors! Creativity should not be limited to elective courses (of which the 7th graders at my school only get ONE of).

Ugh. So many changes to make. So little time.

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8 thoughts on “Monday Musings #13

  1. “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” -John Lewis. Sorry, couldn’t resist. You ran right into that one. Of course by “us”, I mean you, lol. Excellent post. After all, those lawyers, doctors, and engineers are going to need some books to read. Followed. You had me at “caffeinated writer”.

  2. It was the same at my school – creative writing was seen more often in middle school, then by high school there was only one class of it offered. Every night when I got home from school I used to write – short stories, poetry, whatever. I was in forensics and drama club, but I really wish there was a creative writing club! Maybe to help lessen the load, another teacher might be interested in helping out? Either way, it’s a great idea and I hope you’re able to pursue it!

  3. I remember doing a lot more creative writing in lower grades, other than the one creative writing class they had in high school. But, once I discovered I liked writing, I always just wrote on my own when I wanted. Definitely encourage them to write on their own, not just what they would consider school work–some may need the idea given to them because “writing” has become synonymous with “homework.” You may also find other teachers (not just English teachers or the librarian) would be willing to help with a club if you made the need known.

  4. Is there an option for it to be a student run club, with you as an advisor rather than in charge? That would also give the kids more freedom to make of it what they wish.

  5. I like how you’re passionate about your students’ love for writing. We could say the same about the other disciplines…they learn things in math they’ll never use, yet graduate from high school unable to balance their budget or invest their money wisely. Thanks for posting.

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