Does this make senses?


Does this make senses?

“What do you think of this sentence?” I asked the class. “Is there anything wrong with it?

We don’t teach a grammar class, my friend and I, we teach creative writing at a homeschool campus that is an offshoot of the public school district. We are “parent helpers,” not paid teachers.

It gets worse: For six of the last seven years we have been quietly, gloriously, and subversively imploring our students to ignore grammar, spelling, and format and just write. We tell them that all that formality and structure can be ignored for ninety minutes. All of these can (and will) come later, after the creativity has been let out of its structured, school-system cage—but not in our classrom.

Should we be booted out? Reigned in? Given strict boundaries?


Yesterday we had our largest class ever: 30 kids. In years past, our largest group was about twenty, with an average weekly class size of about 10-15.

“Mom, were you worried when you saw so many kids in there today?” asked my youngest after class, though she knew the answer already. Thirty kids in our classroom who were there by choice—who either already love to write, or don’t but have heard, through the school grapevine, that this writing class is different, fun. I could not have been more thrilled to have so many expectant souls attend. I still am.

Does this make senses?

Our kids write (and often share) sensuous, funny, moving, oft-illustrated, brilliant pieces in genres they haven’t been formally taught (fiction, sci-fi, nonfiction, creative nonfiction, flash-fiction, poetry, improv, fan-fiction, and more). This is what comes out of their funny, serious, deep, beautiful minds: sans mandates.

Yesterday one of our youngest students, a tender-hearted seven year old invited to class because his older sister already attends, shared his story with the class orally: over the weekend his precious fish died.

Last year, an older boy who had been viciously bullied in public school shared a poem so beautiful (and surprisingly absent of angst) that I was moved to tears (were it not for my teacher hat, I would have stood there sobbing).

Two weeks ago a boy with perfect handwriting, but zero confidence as a writer his mother told us, stood up and read the beginnings of his sci-fi story. It was his first day in class. The story, brilliant.

Does this make senses?

If you think you are hearing tooted horns, think again. My friend and I are mere spectators, facilitators of creativity that is already pulsing inside these astonishing kids. Sometimes we see it first and gently coax it out. Other times, it bursts forward, unbidden.

Yesterday after our class on writing with the senses as their guides, a new student brought me a two-page essay he had written at home: “This is just for you to read,” he said. “I don’t want you to share it with the class, but I worked really hard on it and I’m proud of it.”

This makes perfect senses to me.

4 thoughts on “Does this make senses?

  1. Do you remember how I taught German without the der-die-das, telling kids to use de for everything? No grammar, until eventually der tisch sounded better than de tisch. First was to express themselves, and later to polish. Your approach to writing would be so much better for mainstream schools.

    1. I do remember that Peter…you probably shared that with me right around the time we started teaching this class. It has been one of the most beautiful journeys of my life; to watch these kids discover their creative selves is a gift I will always cherish.

  2. I agree 100% with “just write.”

    I told a 4th grader the other day, “don’t worry about spelling! Just get your creativity & imagination down. That’s the good stuff.”

    Great post! 👄

    1. Hello hello! It’s so lovely to ‘hear’ your voice.

      You would be amazed at how many kids come to class afraid of failing because they’ve been held to rigid standards at such young ages. I believe,as you do, that the mechanics of writing are best learned after the passion has been ignited. I spend lots of time explaining this viewpoint to parents, who often admit that their kids began to hate writing when they were forced into assignments they hated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *