Writing in School

I’m talking about everything that comes before college. How much are students actually required to write? I remember in second grade having to write some kind of essay or paper in class. I think we were being taught something about the format. Similar assignments were given during the rest of elementary school. The writing was always done in class.

But I’m sitting here thinking about my middle school years and I can’t remember writing anything substantial during that three year span. And then in high school we generally wrote one major paper a year and spent months on it. I wrote about Dracula once, violence in video games, and two topics that I can’t seem to recall at the moment. All of that is to say that I was not forced to write hardly at all until I stepped foot on a college campus. And I think this could be a contributing factor when it comes to people saying writing is a dying art. Imagine if millions of students across the country have similar experiences. And then they enroll in a degree program that is not writing-intensive. Mine was, but my degree plan had a grand total of two math classes. College algebra and Stats. I’d prefer a class that required 15 essays in 15 weeks over stats every day of the week. But I imagine there are MANY programs that are just the opposite and have very little writing.

All I’m saying is that perhaps it isn’t the media or non-writers who are tossing around this myth that writing is a dying art, maybe it’s the entire education system that’s pushing this idea along. I don’t know. How much were you required to write in school?


On this day in 2014 I published Listen to Audiobooks?.

 

Advertisements

38 thoughts on “Writing in School

  1. Though my university education took place in the “good old days”, we still wrote little. It was the age of Aquarius and the vogue was to sit in a circle and explore our feelings and youthful naiveté to the amusement of the instructor. Heaven forbid they had to actually read and grade written work. But I did have to produce a semi scholarly work for my major and did a play and a few essays for electives so all was not lost. But I still remember my first short story in 7th grade geography. I wrote a rollicking war/adventure tale about a downed bomber pilot escaping through the assigned geographic area. Forests and rivers and mountains while dodging Nazi’s and traitorous Frenchmen. The teacher gave me a C-. He wrote in red across the front, “Too much about the people and not enough geography.” His kids probably grew up to be literary agents.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, John, as I’m a sixty-something years old person, I had to do a lot of writing in school. School is where I first found my ability to write stories, around the age of ten, and my teacher used to leave mine until last to mark because he knew he would have a good read after the abysmal work from a lot of my classmates! But we didn’t only write stories, we had to write about history, geography, science, nature study (which is now part of the sciences) and anything else the teacher decided we had to do. We had to copy loads of stuff off the board also.

    I have just retired from working in an elementary school and the children write quite a lot there too, starting at first year upwards. So, I don’t know about American schools, but English schools still expect children to be able to write and write quite a bit. Having said that, they can now do a substantial amount on computers too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was actually really interesting to read because my school/the school system that I’ve gone through actually has a very high emphasis on writing, and I could never imagine it being any other way. Starting from third grade we had tests with extended writing prompts and writing questions on them, and in fifth grade we wrote our very first essays. From sixth through eighth grade we wrote extensively––writing an essay, whether about a book or about our personal lives 2-3 times a month for the duration of the school year. Though in high school it has not been as often, we typically have about 3-5 essays per semester in English alone; however, we also often do extensive essays or research papers for history courses.

    What I really like is that I believe my school has mastered the balance between a good amount of writing and a good amount of math and science. I know that there’s definitely not a time throughout the year when I’m not working an a large written assignment of some sort; however, there is also never a time when any other subjects are neglected because of this focus on writing.

    Like

  4. I wrote a TON in college, because history is very writing intensive. I took some exams in gen Ed courses, but the majority of my classes were history and instead we did research papers and essays. I have essay exams and book reviews in the courses that I teach online because anyone can just look up an answer…I want to guide students to think critically and be able to communicate what they learn. Online courses are not always the best for content, but I hope to make the students better writers at least, because they will use that skill for the rest of their lives.

    Like

  5. I wrote a lot in high school, but I think that had more to do with my teachers than the curriculum as a whole. Other students with different teachers definitely didn’t write as much as I did. And then in college the number of writing assignments only increased.

    This is going to make me sound horribly old-fashioned, but I think all of our mobile technology is really putting a dent in the art of writing. These days we’re dashing off messages on the go without putting a ton of thought into what we’re saying or how we’re saying it. I love my phone as much as anyone so I’m just as guilty as the next person, but I do think that writing well is becoming a rare commodity, and that’s unfortunate.

    Like

    • Hm. I disagree with your point on technology and mobile devices. I’ll say what I said in a previous post, writing is evolving right along with everything else as technology moves along.

      Like

  6. I’m a second year college student, with three science subjects as my majors, and I have languages in my first two years as a part of the curriculum. I started writing long back but never have been encourages in school. It is only in college, that too, after joining a certificate course on creative writing did I actually write more productively.
    I totally agree with you. If you are not a literature student, nobody will encourage you to write.

    Like

    • Well writing well is obviously a quality attribute to have, but I think a great understanding of your subjects may be just as, or more important. At least when it comes to sciences, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I totally agree with you, but what if we don’t know how to write answers? That time writing is a requirement.

        Like

      • You’re talking about being illiterate. That’s not the same as not writing well. Not even close.

        Like

      • No no. Being in a country like India, which has about 20 major languages, and an increasing demand for people in the sciences, esp. engineering and medicine, learning to write effectively get sidetracked. A lot.
        So, I’m saying that, even though the sciences are important, when you get into a job, you’re lost when you have to write a letter. I’ve seen that myself.

        Like

  7. Writing is DEFINITELY a dying art. I don’t know how many times I cringe whenever I find the students I tutor can’t distinguish between they’re, their, or there; and you know what, they don’t care. Not one iota.

    And it is an art. To not only clearly portray your vision but to make others fall in love with it too. So Their and they’re and there!!! 😉

    Like

    • Maybe for students. But not in general. Think of everyone who runs a blog and writes well. Millions of people. News sites. News organizations. Sports sites. Sports organizations. Novelists. Poets. Magazines. Quality writing is more in demand than ever before. Think about just 20 years ago. There was NO ONE writing online. And now look. I don’t think it’s dying at all. Just evolving.

      Like

  8. I’m an Australian student and more than anything I valued English at school. I have always been writing in all different styles but one thing about school was that you were never encourage to write in a manner that displayed creativity.

    In the eyes of the person marking the essays, unless that first line grabs you and pulls you into the story, it only gets skim read and usually receives poor marks.

    This fear was struck into every student which made it so difficult for a hopeful author, like myself, to get any sort of feedback on how they write.

    However. in terms of essay writing, there was a lot. Practice essay after practice essay on a new topic each week-which I thoroughly enjoyed- plus the expansion of our vocabulary by keeping a journal of ‘new words’.

    Perhaps Australian schooling is different , but I believe most students still have to do a lot of writing.

    Like

    • Yep. I think I was tasked with writing one poem in high school. I wrote some in elementary school, but I’m sure they were horrible. That was the only piece of creative writing I can think of. And maybe it is different there? I don’t know.

      Like

      • Not much, you can do an elective which let’s you study more poetry but it messes with the score you receive at the end of the year so a lot of people don’t do it.

        So very sad really.

        Like

  9. As a high school English teacher, I would like to say that honestly it depends on the teacher as much if not more than it depends on the curriculum. The “common core” which most states have now adopted actually requires at the high school level 3 pieces of writing per year (one expository, one narrative, one argument–whether or not the teacher actually abides by that is hard to say, but that is the curriculum standard). I personally have students write much more, but I am a writer and see the emphasis as important.That being said, with funding cut, many schools have class sizes that have grown at ridiculous rates. In the school I taught at in NC, I had no less than 33 students in every one of my classes (mostly it was 35 or more)–on block that is around a 100 students a semester–when you take up a 2 page paper for a 100 students that 200 pages of writing that you have to read and return (according to most schools a “timely fashion” is 3 days)…that’s a lot of reading and critiquing to do in a short amount of time and then you multiple that by the number of writing assignments you do per semester and it can really do a number on a person’s stress level. So, my point is…writing in school SHOULD be emphasized more, but there are a lot of other factors at play here.

    Like

    • I’m sure there are many factors at play. Do you teach at a small school? My high school teachers typically taught five classes of around 25-30. I went to a big school but it wasn’t a BIG one. Pretty average for Texas. I guess that could be a reason for little to no writing.

      Like

      • The school is fairly big (though I’m sure in places like Texas and California there are bigger schools). I believe this year’s enrollment was 2300. Education kinda goes in waves. When I was in school the emphasis on writing was pretty EH, but now they’re pushing it more and more (writing across the curriculum is a huge movement now). It’s like anything else. It goes up and down with all the other factors: Funding, politics, teacher/student ratios, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I do remember doing a fair bit of writing throughout school. However, I do agree to an extent. I was on the bus a few weeks ago and I overheard a girl from my college talking to her boyfriend. She was really stressed out about exams and coursework because she said she had no idea how to actually write an essay. I find in lots of subjects this isn’t touched upon, not even when I studied English. School try and get us to do essays, but not as much as they probably should, rather they set projects and get you to write a booklet on about Pythagoras or chemical reactions or somewhere that speaks spanish, and they don’t exactly teach you how because they don’t teach you about a structure other than the fact you need an introduction, middle and conclusion.It is terrible.

    Like

    • Well that’s not too surprising. My brother’s girlfriend got a low grade on a paper a few months back, so he asked me to read it. I did. My grade that I’d have given the paper and every point I made had been exactly the same as the professor. I was able convince her not to go ask him for a bump in the grade because I felt it fully justified. Anyway, the point I’m making is that I know students aren’t great writers. I always dreaded looking over other student’s papers because I knew it wouldn’t be good. Obviously not every student is going to be able to write great papers, but every student should at least be able to write something half-decent. And they can’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my gosh, seriously? I cant believe you weren’t required to write much. I’m in my last year of high school and we are forced to write an essay almost every week. For History and for English. Especially English. But I love it and I always like to strive for 100% so its not a bother for me (sometimes it goes tedious).

    Like

  12. I have to write 5-7 paragraph essays almost every week in my English classes. In History we have two major research papers (1500-2500+ words) towards the end of each semester and some smaller writing assignments in between. In Latin I have to write up a one page report each week on whatever Latin related topic my teacher assigns, and my lab reports for my science classes require a lot of writing, too, so I guess those sort of count? And I have projects in my math classes that require at least three decent-sized paragraphs of written work. So I personally have had a lot of writing experience in high school; basically all of my classes have some type of writing in it.

    Like

  13. I agree that writing is not included enough in education. When I was a teaching assistant in grad school, I graded undergrad papers. Even though it was in the sciences, I was shocked at how poorly COLLEGE students wrote! I mean, it was bad, bad, bad.
    Growing up, I wrote pretty much every day. During the course of kindergarten through fifth grade, we wrote essays, daily journal entries, and multiple papers a year. We also created, wrote, and illustrated our own stories during multiple grades. In junior high, our writing increased in every class except math. And high school was an endless stream of critical analyses, compare/contrast, research papers, persuasive papers, creative writing, and so on. But my schools had a “Writing Across the Curriculum” program where every class was required to write a minimum amount to make us proficient in all manner of writing. I’m very grateful for that.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s