Steven Singer’s post is part of the series that Anthony Cody is running on his blog about the importance of the arts in education.
Sometimes in public school you’ve just got to cut the crap.
No testing. No close reading. No multiple choice nonsense.
Get back to basics – pass out notebooks, crack them open and students just write.
Not an essay. Not a formal narrative. Not an official document. Just pick up a pencil and see where your imagination takes you.
You’d be surprised the places you’ll go.
You might invent a new superhero and describe her adventures in a marshmallow wonderland. You might create a television show about strangers trapped in an elevator. You might imagine what life would be like if you were no bigger than a flea.
Or you might write about things closer to home. You might describe what it’s like to have to take care of your three younger brothers and sisters after school until just before bedtime when your mom comes back from her third minimum wage job. You might chronicle the dangers of walking home after dismissal where drug dealers rule certain corners and gangs patrol the alleys. You might report on where you got those black and blue marks on your arms, your shoulders, places no one can see when you’re fully clothed.
My class is not for the academic all stars. It’s for children from impoverished families, kids with mostly black and brown skin and test scores that threaten to close their school and put me out of work.
So all these topics and more are fair game. You can write about pretty much whatever you want. I might give you something to get you started. I might ask you a question to get you thinking, or try to challenge you to write about something you’ve never thought about or to avoid certain words or phrases that are just too darn obvious. I might ask your opinion of something in the news or what you think about the school dress code or get your thoughts about how things could improve.
Because I actually care what you think.
Methinks that Steven is thinking of the famous line by David Coleman, architect of the Common Core standards, who once said that when you grow up, you learn that no one gives a —- what you think or feel. Steven Singer cares what his students think and feel. He wants them to think and feel.
At times like these, I’m not asking you to dig through a nonfiction text or try to interpret a famous literary icon’s grasp of figurative language. It’s not the author’s opinion that matters – it’s yours – because you are the author. Yes, YOU.
You matter. Your thoughts matter. Your feelings. YOU MATTER!