The Right To Write

Last week in class we had “fish bowl” discussion about our own personal education experiences. It’s crazy to think that in a class of about 15 people, we all had extremely different backgrounds in education. Collectively, we had students in public schools, charter schools, year-round schools, private schools, catholic schools…you name it! I liked this activity for a few different reasons. First, I think it’s really beneficial to reflect on your own education when considering the policies that shape education for so many people. Second, I think that we can learn a lot from each other by sharing stories of education with each other. It’s also nice to have a class where WE can talk instead of being talked to by the professor.

Since our discussion, I have been doing a lot of reflecting and pondering over some of the topics we talked about – mainly the lack of writing instruction in public schools. When reflecting on my own education (in a private school), my most vivid memories from lower school are those of writing. We worked with a multitude of genres, including creative writing, historical writing, personal writing, and scientific writing. In first grade we made a class newspaper, and each student was responsible for writing his or her own article. In second grade, I worked on a creative piece depicting my life as a pilgrim, living in one of the original colonies. In third grade I made an ABC book about Missouri, my selected state for the 50 States Project. In fourth grade, we worked on a scientific piece about different constellations.

I was so saddened to hear that this was not an experience shared by all students my age. While many of my peers during the fish bowl recalled memories of online reading exercises, it seemed that very few had memories of writing instruction. My most distinct and favorite memories of learning as a young kid revolved around writing – how sad that not everyone was given that opportunity.

I currently work as a writing tutor in the Chapel Hill Public Schools. The program, CoachWrite, focuses on emphasizing the act improving written skills by actually practicing writing. We focus more on content and the development of ideas, because they have found that many students become discouraged with writing at a very young age. Without adequate practice, it is hard to become good at something. And when your writing is thoroughly critiqued, it is easy to lose confidence. This program encourages less critiquing and more practicing so that students can actually have a chance to practice their writing skills before finalizing their opinion on whether or not they “like” to write. After all, it’s hard to like something you are told you are bad at.

This is just one example of a small program that I hope can bring writing experience to many students to help enrich and further their education. I truly believe that writing is the most important skill you can develop as a student, and it has the ability to set you apart in the real world. It’s one of the only skills we learn in school that can be directly translated into a real world setting, and I think that it should be given more attention in schools.

-Carlton

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3 Responses to The Right To Write

  1. jmroney says:

    I appreciate you sharing your own experiences with writing instruction! I went to public school, and 7th grade and 10th grade were really the only prominent writing-instruction years, because of the writing test. I remember “failing” the one in 7th grade (I made a 2), because I transferred from one middle school to another one and the curriculum was not on the same timeline. I honestly have been burdened by this failure for the rest of my school career, because it made me feel like a poor writer. After reading about your own experiences with writing instruction, I’m starting to think that maybe I am a poor writer, but because I have not been exposed to writing in such a way that you have. After reading many of these blog posts I feel like my writing ability is lacking, but am at a loss for how to improve it. It’s really encouraging to hear that programs such as Coachwrite exists! In the county where I went to school there are not any tutoring programs around at all. Thanks for an awesome post!

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  2. abbymevans2015 says:

    Carlton I really enjoyed your post! I thought what you said about reflecting on our own experience in conversation with the policies that effected the whole was very interesting and thought provoking. When we think about it, the goal was for all of us to have the same education right? Standards have been set for equality to be reached so I think it raises the question of is that possible?

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  3. Casper Rhay says:

    I went to public school throughout k-12, and some of my favorite memories are from writing. For example, in 5th grade, my teacher got a lot of these really ambiguous and creepy photos and told us to make a story out of it — there weren’t any other parameters. And in 8th grade, after reading the Hobbit, we all dressed up like the characters and wrote all kinds of pieces about our assigned characters.

    Writing does happen in really meaningful ways. I’m sure it’s to a lesser extent now and varies between subjects, and what’s written will evolve with age, but don’t be disheartened. I can assure you that a new generation of students who love to write are in the making — we just need to help up the count 🙂

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