Keep Writing, Keep Learning!

While writing is often a method for students to demonstrate learning, its initial purpose should be for learning itself.

(Day 22 of my 30-Day Writing Challenge)

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“Writing a Post a Day for Thirty Days Is Insane.”

Someone told me that yesterday, and added, “I give you a lot of credit.”

My response was simple: “I write to work things out in my head. Keep writing, keep learning!” He agreed.

Looking back over the posts and interactions with others on this site, I know that I would not be nearly as prepared for the upcoming school year if I hadn’t decided to join the conversation with my writing.

Why I Write

I write to learn and organize my thoughts. By connecting with others, I acknowledge my interdependence with human society. Learning, sharing, the feedback loop — all these are important to growth and development at any age.

It’s easier for me to write than to engage in constructive conversation, especially when it pertains to difficult topics. Ironically enough, when faced with challenges, I do not immediately turn to a journal or my blog (unless it’s education related). Doing so would be helpful, but until now I didn’t think I deserved help, even from myself. So I would wait until the situation was critical, after many panic attacks, much crying, and too many public displays of crisis.

If only I had addressed the issue immediately, my life would be much better. That’s the truth.

“If only” only gets you so far in recovery. Like, I mean it might open the door. You aren’t getting inside the room (or out of it) until you tell yourself, “‘If only’ is for looking backward. ‘From now on’ is for looking forward, using your history to guide you to the right path.’”

Once I embraced my historian side, it was easy enough to determine a purpose for the things I’ve done wrong. Simply put, acknowledging my mistakes helps me strategize ways to avoid them in the future.

“Those [who] fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” — Winston Churchill

Therefore, the new statement is: From now on, I will write to address issues immediately, to confront that shadow-self, which lurks in the background and likes to play mind games with a lot of negative self talk.

If that sounds a bit off, so be it, because I also write to help others. If my admission can help anyone else, sharing my struggle is worth it.

I am committed to building the strength, capability, competency, and confidence to live the rest of a good life in service to others, to be at peace, to love and be loved, and to be whole. I write to reach those goals and to learn more about how to reach them.

Why Students Should Write

In previous posts, I have written about SEL (Social-Emotional Learning), the hidden curriculum, and writing to learn. I have also written about the essays I have planned this year that require multiple drafts and revisions. Please see the bottom of this post for links to those articles.

Students will complete several essays this year in all my classes (AP Lit, English 11, Creative Writing, and Journalism). One objective of each assignment: writing to learn, to connect content to the individual. Of course, they will also hone their writing and communication skills through multiple drafts and revisions, but the main objective is to explore complex questions related to literature, the human condition, and their role in human society.

Instead of keeping that last part hidden, my students know immediately, from the time they read the description in the course catalog. Throughout the year, we explore a significant reason to study language and literature: to find ourselves and our place within the grand scheme of things.

Students should also be encouraged to start having those difficult conversations with themselves. A result of this 30-Day Writing Challenge is I know that now, and I want to encourage my students to have the conversation before it becomes a crisis. At each opportunity, within the context of great literature, I will ask students to write.

“Let’s not repeat my history,” I will tell them. “Instead, I hope you go into adulthood with excellent strategies for managing the many twists and turns of life, one of which will be writing to learn.”

Thank you for reading this, my twenty-second post in my 30-Day Writing Challenge. Thank you for your encouragement, kindness, and brilliant feedback. Thank you for letting me be part of the conversation.

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