In high school, writing belonged in English class. People who enjoyed writing were “weird” and those who did it for fun during their free time were considered “nerds”. In our black and white minds, writing went with English and that was the only time it was okay, except maybe in grade twelve Writer’s Craft if that was of interest (or if physics wasn’t, come to think of it). Yes, my high school was so small that the only classes offered first period, second semester the year I was in grade twelve were Writer’s Craft and Physics. I hated, no, DESPISED physics and I enjoyed writing, so my choice was pretty easy and it was the best choice I could have made.
There was not that much in terms of essays which sets it apart from a lot of my other high school courses, but we almost never stopped writing. I filled an entire 100 page notebook with random thoughts, writing prompts and the beginnings of assignments which got moved to Google Drive the moment I decided that this time I had finally written something worth reading. There were assignments due nearly every week (ughhh…..there goes my free time….again…) but they covered everything from short stories to poetry to performance writing like songs and movie scripts to creative non-fiction. This practice of continuous writing helped me to develop my creative voice and to learn to communicate in a variety of genres and who would have thought, but I actually had fun!
Of course we covered the classic five paragraph essay in grade nine (zzzz……..wait why are we doing this?) and then the bare bones research paper in grade ten history (well I know how to find sources now), but the writing did not become enjoyable until later when we were allowed to talk about what really interested us. It was like dragging around a heavy weight and then all of a sudden having it released and being free to express ourselves the way we wished.
Of course there were still the people that insisted on lugging that weight around despite their freedom and complaining about how there was too much writing and that it should stay within the English classroom, but they were fighting a losing battle because there was only more writing to come. In grade twelve sociology, for example, I think I learned more about how to use APA format than actual sociology, funny how things sometimes work out that way with certain teachers….
Now that I’m in university (finally! no more math!) the level of writing only gets more intense. We get to study whatever we find the most interesting which for some is overwhelming and confusing, but for me is the greatest blessing I could ever receive.
I can now spend my time learning about how the brain works and why Beethoven was such a brilliant composer but there’s also the hundreds of hours I will spend writing papers. Forget the five paragraph essay, profs don’t want to read those. On the other hand never forget to cite sources because gone are the days of simply losing 5 percent because the citations have been done incorrectly. The writing done here actually means something bigger than just a few black-smudged sheets of paper to hand to a teacher and then throw in the recycle bin the day they are handed back. These papers are what bring home the marks. And without these marks, we might as well say goodbye to that multi-thousand dollar piece of paper we call a diploma.