Is coloring outside of the lines all that dangerous?

I found Anne Curzan’s twist on the traditional black and white rules of grammar to be incredibly refreshing. A lot of our class discussion circulated around the trials and tribulations of learning how to write. As we combined horror stories of high school teachers with requests and inspiration for future instructors, it became very obvious that our group has not had a shimmery past in writing education. Curzan’s essay touches upon concepts that we as students along with many instructors never felt were open to discussion. Her essay dives into the rules and regulations of writing from a creative, rather than a traditional conservative perspective. I find Curzan’s statement, “I also believe that all speakers have the right to make informed decisions about when those rules are appropriate for their writing” incredibly commendable. When we teach freedom of expression combined with room for error we produce a confident writing culture. I believe a contributing factor in students’ writing anxiety are the hardcore grammar rules that have been concretely immersed into elementary curriculum. Yes, obviously it is imperative for students to be conscious and, for the most part, abiding of the English grammar rules. Curzan touches upon this non-negeotiable reality in her piece as well. However, at some point in a student’s writing career these rules must receive less weight. As we discussed many times in class; reading, writing, and speaking are all inevitably intertwined. Personally, I became more in tune with the rules of grammar by simply writing more. The irony in my writing habit was that I preferred creative writing, I enjoyed the feeling of thinking outside of the ‘MLA citation’ box in school. I feel as though this creativity that I continuously fostered in my writing allowed for a connection and familiarity with grammar, but eliminated the fear of grammar rules.  A large amount of the writing insecurity that students claim to face seems to often center upon the “rules” of our language. When we put the rules first and production second, we don’t leave a lot of room for coloring outside of the lines in our work. As a disclaimer- I am in fact aware that we as people and students all have different mental compositions. However, left brains and right brains, each as unique as they may be, seem to all become quickly deterred by fear. Fearing the rules of writing disable the potential we have to produce incredible results. Encouraging students to speak more, write more, and think more with the grammar rules next to creativity, rather than in front of it, undoubtedly will result in a competent and confident classroom.


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