“Sir, writing’s boring.”
“You’re boring. Writing is epic.”

Those are basically my thoughts on the subject illustrated in the form of the oft-repeated conversation I’ve had with many a different team of minions. I luuuurve the writing and find it difficult to tolerate anyone who doesn’t, which is a bit of a shame because that’s basically 90% of the student body. (Some of the remaining 10% also enjoy maths so they’re not to be trusted either.)

As an English teacher it goes without saying that I’m also a frustrated word-slinger (thwarted aspirations of being The Next Great British Novelist are pathetically standard for us lot) so I tend to get horribly enthused at the prospect of a bit of writing with my class. My beard stroking goes into maximum overdrive at the thought of having a go at a short story or a bit of poetry and this excess of animation on my part immediately clues the kids into putting great whacking shields up:

‘Oh hell no. He’s stroking his beard, pacing and espousing on the beauty of language. He’s going to make us write poetry, I bloody know it.’

The process of putting words in such an order that the reader might be interested in them, or, (lord help us), feel something about what they cast their eyes over is one that makes me feel like I am doing something that is intrinsically right, intrinsically good. This is a hard sell for many of those I teach for whom the written word represents nothing but frustration and annoyance. So when faced with such barriers I leave my quasi-mystical hippy dippy views behind to concentrate on technical detail, the beauty in the clarity of a sentence or phrase and the neatness of a well-shaped paragraph. Sometimes these things (plus my patented wushu teaching style) add value and convince them to change their attitude, and sometimes they don’t. In that case I try harder.

Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed and recently, I’ve been lucky enough to write about teaching in various magazines and such. It’s fun and it means I have a bit of a voice where formerly my relatively low-ranking position would mean that my inane ramblings would only echo around the office or the classroom (whether that’s a good or a bad thing I’ll leave entirely up to you. But it’s good. So shut up). It’s mostly due to this here blog, a fantastic platform where I can go on and on about things and people (good-hearted but ultimately misguided folk like yourself) actually take some time to read, and get back to me about the things that they’ve read. It’s that exchange that changes something I already enjoy doing into something that may be more meaningful.

Maybe that’s what mine need; someone from the outside to really listen to what they’re saying, to read their painful scrawl and give them a tiny little bit of affirmation for their efforts. It’s why I trialled class blogging last year (with extremely mixed results to be honest, it’s not for everyone). I want mine to share in some of the benefits that I’ve found and start loving writing the way I do.

Or it might be the case that I cut down on the early-warning beard stroking and go for a surprise haiku or something. Catch them off guard.



    • tstarkey1212

      Thanks loads for leaving a comment.
      There’s something to be said for practicing what you preach – but then again there are other pressures that can sometimes see writing pushed to the background. I wouldn’t have had the energy to fit as much in at the start of my career as I do know. I’m very lucky in that respect.

  1. Noopuddles

    Your opening quote made me laugh out loud (I refuse to use LOL) as I’ve had the same conversation a number of times. I also started a writing blog with one of my classes this year, it worked pretty well, especially when we sent the link to SLT and their form tutors who wrote lovely comments. I think kids need to know that their writing has a purpose beyond me marking it.

    • tstarkey1212

      Thanks for commenting!
      I think that last sentence sums up the benefit of blogging really well. It can serve as a window to the outside world which makes the students consider a wider audience. In many cases that I’ve seen it’s meant that they’ve taken much greater care and pushed themselves that bit more.

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