Stop busy work, foster creative expression in schools earlier

By Foster Nicholas | Reporter

The normal high school English curriculum revolves around composing essays, writing book reports and ingesting information that isn’t particularly beneficial to the students who constantly go through the same pointless cycle until graduation. From ninth through 12th grade, the most beneficial life skills are not being discussed or imparted.

Instead of book reports and essays, schools need to start having at least one full year when students are assigned prompts that allow their brains to run free.

Creative writing is taught in many schools, but for most students, it is notorious for being a class that is an easy A. Therefore, students don’t take creative writing courses seriously. This needs to change, because the benefits of being able to effectively and accurately express oneself through writing will never come from putting together a plethora of book reports.

Many students in elementary schools are given writing prompts and write fiction stories that help develop their minds. High school students should be given prompts that allow them to reach into themselves and come to an honest and thorough understanding of how they feel about the world around them, as well as how they experience interacting with their peers. Furthermore, students should be able to start exploring their own sense of self within well thought out creative writing assignments. As teenagers’ brains develop, they are constantly having to assess their own beliefs, values, inner struggles and character strengths.

A simple prompt such as, “Write about staying quiet when you feel like shouting,” brings forth a unique opportunity for students to create a story — whether it be truth or fantasy — allowing them to find their voice, use it and be heard. Therefore, writing in such a way does more than sharpen language skills or expand vocabulary; it inadvertently assists in building self confidence within students. Each assignment encourages individuals to develop their own voice, and in turn (over time), it aids every student in becoming comfortable with speaking their truth.

To many people, at first thought, creative writing may seem like a childish idea. This expostulation is false, and it has been proven again and again through psychological studies that creative writing is even more beneficial for college students. It continues to build on imagination, empathy, value identification, archetypal identity and other cerebral elements that cannot be taught via essays.

College-level students already have a foundation that was essentially built by generic busywork, so the creative writing process is no longer about structure but rather about imagination and identity. Another benefit for having creative writing courses be mandatory in colleges is that students are no longer required to censor themselves. This allows them to dig deeper and bring out more passion and truth in their writing, without the fear of being penalized for writing something the public school system deems “controversial.”

Overall, if students were given the opportunity to really get serious around the topic of creative writing, there would be innumerable benefits. Students would be able to grow as human beings and experience much less stress, as the days of busy work and essays would be far behind them.