We talked about being brave writers in class. But let’s flip it around. What would you do as a teacher if your students wrote what you didn’t want to hear? What if they wrote a heart wrenching, beautifully composed piece about their life as a drug dealer? What if they wrote a piece that put Fifty Shades of Grey to shame? If they confessed their intention to commit suicide and detailed their constant self-harming tendencies? How would you handle that? These may be extreme examples, but I think you can get my point. How do you ensure that your students feel like they can safely be brave in their writing, in an institute that covertly encourages conformity?
I can give you a real-life example of a tough situation in writing. During my sophomore year in high school, a student in my grade wrote an essay sympathizing with Adolph Hitler and praised him for his fortitude and groundbreaking ideas. Our teacher attacked him (it probably didn’t help that she clearly didn’t like him in the first place. Which also raises a question I’d love to blog about at a later time: what do you do if you can’t stand one of your students?) Personally, I may have had a hard time not taking a similar approach as our teacher. I would have tried to challenge his thinking in a slightly more positive way (keep the claws retracted as long as I possibly could). I’d love to hear of any other ideas!