What Should A Writing Class Teach?

Throughout high school, all of my writing courses were actually English classes, not strictly writing. This meant they were mostly focused on reading, with a few essays based on those books. These English classes were often very difficult for me, especially reading quizzes. After reading about four chapters of a book, we would have a reading quiz in class about details of what we read, simply to make sure we are doing the reading.   I always read the books, but for some reason I could never remember those minuscule details the next day. It was very frustrating for me because I was doing the work, trying very hard, and still getting low grades. In general, this class structure caused me to resent my English courses. I wish that I had been allowed to read at my own pace and for my own enjoyment, instead of reading while thinking, “This sounds like something there would be a quiz question on so I had better pay special attention to this paragraph.” If I didn’t have to worry like this, I probably would have grown to enjoy and appreciate English and writing classes more. Especially for the essays based off of the books we read, I wish I had been allowed to write about the books as I please, obviously still with correct grammar, but with my own voice. Constantly catering to teachers and classes prevented me from truly enjoying and learning in my writing classes.

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2 thoughts on “What Should A Writing Class Teach?

  1. English was not my favorite class during high school either. I remember highlighting everything that looked important from the book or rushing through Sparknotes guide to figure out what I need to know for the exams and quizzes. I very much agree on how students should get to go at their own pace and I would have enjoyed the course way more if they let us. But on the other hand, I also think that being required to finish reading materials on a deadline was a helpful practice for me. Even though I hated it, I can’t deny that it made me a better reader. So I think to a certain extent, a form of discipline is necessary in order to challenge the students but maybe teachers could change their approach to better engage students.

  2. I really appreciate the distinction you make here between writing courses and a traditional elementary english and/or reading course. Several of our discussions in class have touched upon the broad topic of a writing course, usually focusing in on collective discussion about what a college level writing course should entail. However, your post provokes a very important topic that we have yet to touch upon. At what age is it appropriate to start placing heavy emphasis around developing and maintaining your own personal voice in writing?
    Elementary education places an incredibly high importance upon reading comprehension. I believe that if creative writing received a similar, let alone equal presence in the classroom, children would feel much more confident about their writing ability.

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