Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rushing through the process

I spent the afternoon with my daughters at the Museum today. There were queues at the door which was heartening to see, until I got inside. Yes there were many parents allowing their children to take the lead. There were just as many however, that were frantically pushing their children from exhibit to exhibit, caught up in making sure they 'saw everything' and got their money's worth. I watched some children literally pulled away from exhibits they were absorbed in to get to the next thing ... and it made me wonder what on earth those parents were doing there.

When young adults are actively seeking out knowledge, it's something you have to slow down and enjoy. You can't rush them through the process to get the ribbon at the end.

It made me think about the many stories I wrote when I was young that ended with 'and then the world blew up'. I always rushed the ending because we were often busied along to finish our creative endeavours in an allotted time.

Imagining an entire narrative arc when you're in grade four could be a little challenging at times, but was far worse for working to a deadline. Ending the world (and my story) in one quick sentence at the end meant I never had to contemplate where my story was going, I could just enjoy the writing process.

Stressing that students don't have to come up with an ending, or finish in an allocated time can go a long way to settling them down to actually enjoying the writing process! It might also give the four students at the back of the room that often struggle with creative writing tasks, the breathing room to settle into the activity.

Of course, guiding the writing task with a particular purpose is another way to approach this. Simply have them focus on one aspect of their story, building atmosphere or character for example, with an understanding that finishing is not the purpose of the exercise.

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