Teaching writing is an amazingly subjective enterprise. I just finished a book about a middle school writing teacher and his students. I read it in hopes of finding some activities that I could do with my younger writing students.
As far as my goal for reading, mission accomplished. The book was well-written and contained a few good activities to teach story writing.
Nevertheless, I was horrified by the sections describing the writing conferences and by the advice that the writing teacher reports having given to parents at several points in the story. He admits to steeling a set of student tests and to advising a parent who was considering private school that his son could be just as easily corrupted by classmates at a private school as by classmates at a public school. It’s hard to imagine someone so insensitive to a father that he or she would offer up that bit of unsolicited wisdom.
Some days I feel like I am not a good writing teacher, but I know better than to do that. I guess the dozen people who gave this writing teacher’s book five star reviews weren’t bothered by either of those details.
I looked at reviews of the book on Amazon, and everyone else seemed to have enjoyed it, but I found myself rolling my eyes and feeling sorry for the kids. I’m not naming names, just venting, I guess.
The book is a good reminder of how many different approaches there are to teaching writing and to dealing with people.
Eric Anderson is a writing tutor. He lives in Wesley Chapel, Florida, and tutors students in Pasco and Hillsborough Counties. If you have a student who would like help becoming a better writer, call Eric at 813.787.8959.