Thursday, September 24, 2009


This morning, as I was walking down the hall at school, I heard a teacher in another classroom say to her students, “No wandering or chattering”, and, oddly enough, it got me thinking about teaching writing. As I continued walking, I wondered whether that is actually the main message my students get from me in writing class: Don’t wander in your writing. Don’t chatter in your sentences. Just follow the directions, get to the point, and do the assignment. Do my instructions for writing a high school essay sound like a bossy teacher trying to keep recalcitrant students in line? Do my students feel like their written sentences have to quietly march in a straight line like a class of 3rd graders going down a hall? It’s true that I do give explicit instructions for how to organize and construct an essay, and many specific rules have to be followed, but I hope the students also feel comfortable enough to let their words relax and smile a little in the sentences. I hope my students realize that a little carefree “chattering” among phrases and sentences can lend an enriching amount of seasoning to a prim and proper academic essay. A writer, no matter how formal the project might be, must always feel freer and more spontaneous than students under the rule of a stern teacher. No matter how many guidelines my students are required to follow, I want them to know that allowing their thoughts and words to amble and prattle a bit as they’re writing could spread some needed life through the paragraphs.

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