While reading Teri S. Lesesne’s article “Of Times, Teens, and Books”, I was able to really connect with the text and think back to when I was in High School, the ways our teachers incorporated free writing, and free writing I do today. It’s funny because so many of what we are learning in class I haven’t even thought of, but once we discuss issues in class and they are on my radar…I can the role they played throughout my education. Lesesne talk about the way the Core Academic Standard for K-12 English prevent educators from teaching their students to learn, cultivate, and revel in the surprise and discovery that accompanies working with words. The curriculum is so confined because of the standards that students end up missing out on the joy and creative process of free writing. I personally can’t even remember ANY time in my high school experience where I was able to write about whatever I wanted. Because of this, I rarely even think to do it later in life. It has been drilled into our minds from day one of our education that the writing process has a strict path that must be followed in order to compose the best possible piece of writing. However, Lesesne explains that a low of writing just happens with no plan at all. In her words, “writers plunge ahead with faith and fearlessness, keeping on their semantic toes – writers learn what they want to while they are writing.” I think this is beyond true, and it saddens me that because of the strict regulations and academic standards, I missed out on learning this myself. I personally love the creative process of working in my own head, starting with a simple idea or image, and building off of that. The way Lesesne describes the writing process as, “a sense of adventure – the willingness and longing to encounter the unexpected,” only heightens my excitement to enjoy this writing process myself. We do need to let go and let language do what it does best – which is think. If we do this, writing will become second nature to our students and to us as educators. Instead of dreading the writing process because of its traditional shackles, students will take pleasure in the shaping of writing.
It kind of saddens me to think that I haven’t been enjoying this process for the past 20 + years…and it makes me wonder, does the confinement and strict structure of the teaching of English hinder students’ imaginations? I think that if I was free to write this way before, and let the ideas come to me throughout the writing process, I would be much more comfortable in letting my imagination run wild. Unfortunately, I think my imagination has been on mute for so many years it may be hard to get back in the swing of things working with it. But, I’m really glad we read this article. It may sound corny again, but it made me excited about writing again – and I haven’t been excited to write in a very long time.