Schools Should Teach Bad Writing
"Writing doesn't always have to know where it's going. Yes, yes, in school we are taught to march our thoughts in nice orderly rows— as though that's the way they occur to us. As if that's the way we really think. The writing we learn in school— in most schools — is a stripped down, chromeless, noncustomized prose," says Julia Cameron, author of The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life
She continues, "Writing like that — 'good' writing — is like watching a movie we've seen before. We can admire the craft, but none of the outcomes chills us to the marrow, moves us to tears, or causes us to gasp with recognition. Sometimes it takes 'bad' writing to do that."
I admit, here in my home school, I only teach bad writing. Which is to say I don't teach writing at all. I just let my girls say what they want to say, when they want to say it. For a while I wasn't sure about this method; I let my kids verbally "play story" for hours. I let them listen to or read a few novels a day. Now, at ages 10 and 12, notebooks are bursting, papers floating 'round the house. With stuff like the poem below. And I'm happy I never forced them to march their thoughts in rows.
On a planet far away
on a world with twenty suns
lived a girl with electric hair
and in a sea a neon bear
over all the ice and snow
bone sleds pulled by purple dogs
lives a man with a flying hat
and a rainbow colored mat
in a city made of glass
lives a kind of dragonfly
that are so big the people ride
up in the sky the camouflage hides
and on the moving copper clouds
sit the ones, the flying creatures
with a crown of frozen lightning
folded back the ivory wings
on a planet far away
millions of years ago one day.
— by Sara, 12
Alternacreatures drawings by Sara B. Used with permission.