Putting Writing & Work Together

writingHave you ever noticed students don’t seem to think “work” and “writing” belong together? They believe they can sit down with pencil and paper, or with their hands on the keyboard in front of a computer screen and turn out a work of art–the first try.

Throughout the summer, I’ve tried to explain to them that writing is not unlike a sculpturer who chips and chisels away at a granite stone until he reveals the shape he desires. Writing can also be compared to a painter who has a blank canvas and slaps on shade after shade of pigment until his or her painting comes alive. It’s the same with writing. It’s hard work. It’s a process.

Today I’m giving a practice exam so when my students take their final, they won’t freak out. Test anxiety seems to be high in my class. I have more confidence in them than they have in themselves. One problem is, they over-think their answers.

Since the first day of class,16 out of 20 students have diligently dragged themselves out of bed to attend class, and I showed them they have actually learned something. I proved to them they have grasped spotting grammatical errors with a proof reading exercise we did in class on Monday.

My goal is to inspire them so they can go on and be successful. I also want them to find that inner creative streak. Their creativity might not show up in the arts–it might raise its beautiful head in accounting, computer science, horticulture or even mechanics. I’ve given them permission (some people also seem to need this) to think creatively to ask “why?”

So as our class draws to an end, if they aren’t yet in touch with their inner two-year old, then perhaps more than half of them will pass the final.

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5 thoughts on “Putting Writing & Work Together

  1. I have to say I disagree. From my observations and experiences, students realize the hard work required for an excellent piece of writing. However, with so many teachers that accept adequate writing, students are less likely to take the time to do their best work when they have so many other obligations. Yes, this is detrimental to their writing skills, but with so many teachers that have unrealistic time limits for a certain amount of pages written for an in class essay, or low expectations of writing, students’ writing is bound to lose some luster.

    • Thanks for your comment. I teach very remedial writing — I’m talking basic grammar in order for students to write a paragraph. All I expect is a paragraph at this point; however, I do expect them to turn in their best work. Through the semester, I can tell when they have worked and when they have not. 

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    • I must disagree with Kelley. Teachers putting an “unrealistic time limit” on a writing project or other things is not detrimental to anyone, it’s a fact of life. School life, like work life need to comingle for things to get better. If you can’t perform a writing project under time constraints how on earth are you going to finish a time constraint for a work project? It’s all about time management, and how well you cope with the curve balls in life. Losing luster in class is easy, losing luster in your professional career could cost you, cost you in more ways than one.

      • The only difference I would say is that in your professional career, most of the work involved on a time constraint (depending on your career) is actually thinking things through, brainstorming, etc. Whereas with strict time constraints on school papers restricts your amount of time to think it through because you barely have enough time to physically write it out. I am just referring to in-class assignments where constraints are more like twenty minutes for pages and pages of essay. It’s not a question of if you are able to do it, but how well. I do applaud this teacher though because she is strict with her assessments of student’s writing. I believe it puts more of an emphasis on that class and makes them take it serious. A lot of problems stem from non-English classes where teachers don’t bother grading based on the writing skills and that tends to carry over to students’ writing.

  2. Hello again, It is true, sometimes the writing can just flow, but I still go back and edit. Other times is more like trying to blast out the side of a mountain to find a little gem. Either way it is an adventure. If you didn’t have a chance to see my other recent post, Spinning your wheels? Pull for a Creative Pit Stop, you might find some of the ideas helpful. I also linked into it some of the other posts I have done on creativity. Have a great day.

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