This blog outlines my suggestions and ideas relating to Mr. Azeem Ibrahim's initiative in encouraging creative writing in schools (The Herald 10 Aug. 09)
and involving selected schools in Scotland and the United Arab Emirates.
A WRITERS' JOURNAL/NEWSLETTER FOR SCHOOLS
My suggestion – a writers’ journal for schoolchildren and others (different sections) would provide a focus/outlet for students’ creative writing.
This would take off if creative writing were to be included as part of the curriculum. It has already been reported, in the press and elsewhere, that an over concentration on hard subjects – subjects that demand one right answer, so to speak, do little for a child’s imagination – actually de-motivate children from learning and excelling.
Creative writing at any age helps students to ‘own’ the language they use in their writing. In too many cases, students’ words and even their thoughts and initiatives are removed and used by teachers, leaving the child with little or no incentive to be creative, knowing as they do that anything they come up with will often be taken away from them or changed beyond recognition.
We all know that education in UK and elsewhere is still predicated on ideas promoted at the time of the Industrial Revolution, when the task of education was to fill the factories and offices with school leavers – to create a compliant, docile workforce that could be controlled.
Sir Ken Robinson, the noted educationalist, has said many times that creativity is and will be as important as literacy and numeracy have traditionally been in our schools.
The problems that beset us – global climate change – societal problems, recession, as well as the production of de-motivated students in our schools – have not yielded and will not yield to old style solutions – if that were not true, we would have solved all our problems. The fact is that new ways of seeing what the problem is, new ways of seeing the sources of problems are what are needed.
One way of promoting creativity, a way that has the added advantage of bringing on students’ ability to use their mother tongue, in reading, speaking and listening, as well as in writing, is creative writing.
One of the best incentives to write that I know if is having your work published – seeing your own writing under your title and your name. Of course, there are many incentives to write, and many rewards too; writing is enjoyable; it gives you the opportunity to express yourself; it provides an opportunity to explore issues and areas and topics, and it is fun. A writers’ journal for schools would provide that incentive.
HOW WOULD STUDENTS BE INVOLVED?
Students would be the sole contributors to the journal, and they would choose subject lines for stories, initiate every sort of activity associated with creative writing. It would be their journal, and theirs alone, written for them and by them.
WHAT WOULD THE JOURNAL LOOK LIKE?
It could be an online journal and a hard copy, one or the other or both, to come out as and when it was agreed by interested parties such as teachers and students themselves.
WHICH GENRES WOULD BE USED?
Fiction and creative non-fiction, poetry, flash fiction and short fiction such as the 50 word story.
WOULD THE JOURNAL CONCENTRATE ON FICTION?
Primarily, yes, but it might easily move into areas such as creative non-fiction.
HOW WOULD THE JOURNAL BE PUBLICISED?
Through an online newsletter.
HOW WOULD IT BE CIRCULATED?
If hard copies were to be published, this would have to be carefully considered, as to the cost, for example.
HOW WOULD STUDENTS AND OTHERS SUBSCRIBE TO IT?
WOULD THE JOURNAL BE IN AN ONLINE FORM - WEBSITE/BLOG?
Robert L. Fielding
Al Ain, United Arab Emirates and Tollcross, Glasgow, Scotland