A writer is a person tasked with a difficult job—to take words and make them beautiful. Writers paint vital images for their readers, images that stimulate the mind, images that satisfy, bewilder, and fascinate the human psyche. This art, the art of writing, is crucial to society, to education, and to the shaping of our world. Therefore, something deserves recognition; and exploration. Writing is generally an ignored subject in American schools. This raises an important question for our future; who will write books?
The problem does not take root in the stereotype that millennials are too lazy to write. The problem begins in schools. Developed in 2009 and released in 2010, Common Core standards implement common curriculum to schools across America to keep students and teachers across the nation on track with each other so that a student in California would receive an education just like a student in Georgia would. These standards focus heavily on STEM subjects such as mathematics and the sciences, which puts students who would like to pursue a career in writing at a loss. The Common Core expected standard for English Language Arts classes is as follows; “The Common Core asks students to read stories and literature, as well as more complex texts that provide facts and background knowledge in areas such as science and social studies (…) This stresses critical-thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills that are required for success in college, career, and life.” It is important to note that the preceding standard promotes critical-thinking, problem solving, and analytical skills in English classes.
Common Core allows for all classes to become much more formulaic. Assignments receive feedback and grades according to a rubric or a formula—because that is the only way to make sure that all assignments across the country receive similar grading. Writing, however, does not fall into a category that could receive relevant feedback from a rubric.
Therefore, creative writing has become a different subject. It is often offered as an elective, but the curriculum is often nonexistent. There are not few people who feel compelled to teach students how to read in a world dominated by STEM careers.
Micah Mangrum is one of the few students who takes advantage of the creative writing class Milton High School in Atlanta offers. “I love to read. I guess the desire to write came out of reading a lot of good books.” he says. There are eight students in his class, just eight, out of the 2,300 students that attend his school. “Out of the thousands of kids who go here, not that many are into creative writing. That’s depressing,” says another one of the eight.
Isabel Garcia is an eleventh grader at Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, California. She writes nearly every day, perfecting her craft each time she takes a pen to paper.
“Writing is liberating, yet deceiving because the way I write is different from the way I speak and present myself. Though, when writing imagines,” she feels, “I transform into who I feel I really am, and step into the life I dream of.”
Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
Indeed, there is no pain greater than the affliction of never being able to share your story. The Common Core has little chance of being taken out of schools anytime soon. The federal government has its hands all over education, meaning that there is nothing that local (state governments) are able to do about it. So, in short, we must not only encourage, but empower and educate young writers. Validate them, tell them how important it is that they take their time to write. Ask your child to tell you stories as early as they can speak. At times, a story can be more important than any textbook.