Schools, and a Look at Students’ Hatred of Writing

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As a student who loves writing for English class, I never completely understood why so many other students despised book reports and essays in school. Sure, writing a two-or-three page essay can be stressful or tiring to any person, but in my eyes using this reason alone to describe the mass hatred of school essays isn’t justifiable in the slightest. At first, I had the urge to push myself to dig deeper, and find out why the problem exists. One day in class, however, is when I (supposedly) figured it out.

Fortunately, I’m a reasonable person who happens to know what opinions are and how they should be shared and respected, so I’ll try to keep that clear throughout this post (besides, I think my opinion is well-rounded enough to be at least acceptable by the majority of my readers). Also, I’m completely aware of students other than me that adore writing just as much. In fact, I happen to know many of them. Finally, this post only concerns the English curriculum of junior high schools in Washington State. Nonetheless, you can message me here if you’ve had any similar experiences! So without further ado, let’s begin:

Just as I mentioned in the first paragraph, book reports and essays are most likely the most common assignments in any English class. Heck, writing in general is probably the most common activity in the classroom, but only topping reading by a slim difference. The specific style of writing that solely analyzes another author’s work is purposely limiting the creative freedom of the analyzer, whether they be a child or an adult. I can completely understand the argument that applying your own meaning to another author’s text needs some level of creativity, but using so much space in today’s English curriculum for reports with a minimal amount of other kinds of essays to limits the amount of students’ experience with other types of broader, more creative writing.

In fourth or fifth grade, my class’s teacher could assign me and my classmates one of two tasks: write a short report for a story about a space mission to Mars, or use two paragraphs to actually continue the story ourselves. Up until then we had never been asked to continue a narrative that we read for school, but by the time our fingers were at the keyboard the true creativity and writing potential we wanted to show simply flowed out and onto the screen.

Whereas book reports are based around applying unique meaning to pre-existing text, creative writing that continues the work itself not only can be applied to any fiction book, but increases the amount of creativity and genuine imagination needed to create a meaningful paper. No matter what genre or specific subject of the book, periodical, or poem that is your source, creating a “report” about any medium of writing will require a large amount of the paper to be dedicated to simply describing or summarizing the text. Of course, properly continuing a story (even if it’s for fun) will need some quantity of information from the original, but the benefit of being able to keep the analysis “backstage” and your personal writing front-and-center is what draws me and many others towards creative writing.

The “front-and-center” analogy can be applied to other types of creative writing, as well. Just about any original work by an author or novelist who isn’t just writing about somebody else’s creation can be classified as creative writing, and therefore can be represented by the rule. At the end of the day, all I wish to be mended in the English curriculum as of now is the unbalanced ratio of book reports to more creative kinds of writing. Making a few changes to keep this imaginary scale level could have the power and potential to get more and more students engaged and engrossed in writing.

Nicholas Lucchetto, The ESSAYER

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