Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lessons from the Newest Generation of Writers (& Thinkers)

By Rebecca Wallace-Segall

The teens leave. Once again I sit here in a charged silence--reflecting. Reflecting, this time, on the two shy but suddenly irreverent 15-year-olds who were exploring the emotional and creative boundaries of the boy's memoir and the girl's short story. Their comments were confident and rich--they have changed so much since they first started coming to workshop in July. The silence is broken when the 8th graders arrive, two girls with short stories, two boys with memoirs in tow. The girls dazzle us with the elegant complexity of each of their main characters. The boys show us that, in the right setting, they, too, can think, speak, and write about the emotional themes of their lives. They leave, and I reflect:

Most people have low expectations of young people's creative writing--and often, it is one-dimensional, confusing, and unengaging. But that, it turns out, is only because few bother to allot time to cultivate it--to teach it. And it is such a shame because young people derive so much pleasure from it. My students complain about the stress of hours and hours of homework but then stay up late at night happily typing away at their creative writing pieces. And it is only good for their brains: they learn to apply linear themes, abstract concepts, and technical writing skills to their fantasy worlds. What makes for better, fuller, more enjoyable learning than that?

Finally, I realize it is time to rename the blog(!): Lessons from the Newest Generation of Writers. I will call Andrea, our fabulous tech intern at Vassar, to request that the blog be updated accordingly.

Another Sunday workshop down.


Nico said...

That was a beautiful entry. And I couldn't agree more with it. I'd rather write a few pages than start my math homework, and I'm glad I'm not the only one.

Deborah Siegel said...

What a beautiful post, Rebecca, and I LOVE the blog's new name! Kudos to you and your co-bloggers for launching such a rich, poignant, needed forum about young writers and creativity at large.