About Me

Friday, 26 June 2015

The National Curriculum Does Not "Damage" Children's Creative Writing

Just read something that made me angry...

The thing is, children love experimenting with new words (we call them Wow Words in our school) and take delight in trying to shoe-horn them into their writing. And somewhere, at some stage, they must learn to use simple, compound, complex sentences, and yes, longer and longer ones (sometimes including parenthesis or "comma sandwich") all without losing control of that ("let's make it even longer! Let's be like Dickens!) multi-clausal sentence.

And it's fun. And they learn. And the writing's awful, of course it is.
But that doesn't matter. 
Because they're not aiming to produce writing that will be noticed on a slush-pile. They're learning the rules. And experimenting. And having fun.
Just like learning a foreign language, the writing's going to be pretty bizarre at times (our year sevens have been trying to fit our latest Word of the Week "transmogrification" into their work this week!), but it has to go through an "awful" stage before it gets better. It's like anything that's part of the creative process. I mean, Picasso wouldn't have produced his pared back genius abstractions without first learning by producing a whole lot of flowery, fussy, over-detailed drawings, right?
Let all children over-embellish; excitedly, enthusiastically and entertainingly (whoop, a list of three!) shovel in as many Wow Words as they want; let them clutter their writing with adverbs, adjectives and all manner of hellish intensifiers; let them experiment. Let them explore.
Let them sing.
But. It. Doesn't. Matter.
Because one day, that one child who is destined to become a writer (as in claw themselves out of the slush-pile, make it their life's obsession until they've got their first book deal), they will join SCBWI, form a critique group, maybe scrape enough pennies to do an MA in creative writing.
And they'll read Stephen King's "On Writing" and realise that, gosh yes, "the road to hell is paved with adverbs", and they'll pare back all that silly floweriness,
and they'll write.
And write.
And write.
And all the over-zealous teachers and all the National Curriculum criteria in the world never did them a jot of harm.
I know because it happened to me.