Monday, November 26, 2007

Creatively Deprived

By Nico G.

Rebecca wrote a wonderful post about the lack of creative writing in schools. While it is true that some private schools and well-funded public schools choose to not emphasize creative writing and to not celebrate their student writers, most public schools don't have a choice in the matter for two reasons: they don't have the funding to set up substantial writing programs from the city and state, and creative writing is not part of the school's required curriculum. Therefore, there is little creative writing in these schools. It is not always a purposeful decision to deprive students as much as it is out of the school's reach to offer this to their students.

Furthermore, some schools simply don't have teachers capable of helping students with their creative writing and cannot afford to hire anyone. Understandably, the English teachers at these schools try as best they can to teach students what they need to know for the gobs of standardized testing students must endure. If creative writing were ever to emerge as a major leg of public education, changes would have to be made on a state level, to make sure schools are required to emphasize it. Otherwise, it will not be done in a substantial way.

Sadly, caught in the middle are students already introduced to and/or interested in creative writing. To these kids, I urge lots of reading, and even more writing. If your school does not offer you the opportunity to creatively express yourself, and you do not have access to a program such as WritopiaLab, consult your English teacher privately, and discuss your predicament with them, or you can do what many writers have done throughout history and teach yourself how to craft stories with the help of already published works. Just because you're deprived of a creative writing program doesn't mean you're deprived of sharing your voice with the world.


Rebecca Segall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca Segall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca Segall said...

Beautifully said, Nico. Also, I wonder what schools with little funding could do. For example, could schools, perhaps, hold readings in their auditoriums during which teen writers read their work on stage? And, if the school has a literary magazine, perhaps students could read the work that was published in it?

the hungry writer said...

I was very impressed by Rebecca's WSJ article and agree that we absolutely need to support the literary arts in schools with the understanding that "competition" can indeed be positive influence on young writers.

The creative writing program that I developed at my childrens' local public school was funded by the PTA and implemented by a dedicated group of parent volunteers. The program involved writing workshops which then culminated in the formation of a team of student editors responsible for recruiting for, editing and publishing an annual literary journal made available to all 900-plus students. At the conclusion of the school year we would hold a book launch/writers' celebration where proud students would read their work and autograph copies of the journal.

What was considered most daring about this project was the students' decision to be selective in choosing material to publish. Not all students who submitted (anonymously) were published, but everyone received written comments from the editorial team with suggestions for improving the piece and each student was always offered an opportunity to re-submit work after revisions. Remarkably, we never received complaints that a student's self-esteem was damaged in being left out, instead we would hear back from teachers and parents of improved writing skills upon consideration of the editorial comments.

Sadly, my children moved on to secondary school and while the PTA funds were available, the volunteers began to dwindle such that the program was discontinued.

I am now teaching an extra-curricular writing/online publishing program at a local public school three times a year, but have often dreamed of putting together a store-front type young writers studio in Northern Virginia. Rebecca's work and words have inspired me and reinvigorated my desire to see this dream become a reality in my community.

jeremy said...

Hungry Writer, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your project sounds wonderful, and I hope you get to do something of the like soon again. It's amazing how deeply satisfying it is to be part such programs. I love hearing from others who find such fulfillment in it as well.

Rebecca Segall said...

woops, i was signed in as my husband...(that was my comment above)