Keep the ‘creative’ in creative writing

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By SHELBY STROUT

In today’s school system, teachers are switching out the fictional writing to fulfill the standard of formal writing. Whether it is an analytical essay on a classic piece of literature or an inferential discussion about a non-fiction article, students are hard pressed to a strict, realistic writing regime.

This year I was able to step outside the formal writing box in a special class. Mrs. Susanne Stefani’s creative writing course is one of the few classes offered at my school where students are able to write freely on a given prompt. No harsh guidelines, restrictions, or grammatical criteria. Just my pencil, paper and thoughts.

Being on a set course of Honors English classes all of my four years, I am already an expert on how to write an academic paper. This class has handed me the opportunity to really think about my personal feelings and opinions on random topics, and I have found more solace and acceptance from my peers during second period creative writing class than I have in any other English class.

The expansion of my creativity has not only enhanced my own thoughts, it has also expanded my tunnel vision through the sharing of writing by my peers. Since it is a writing class, students do receive a half-semester of a composition credit. However, this credit has previously not been used to override a deficiency if a student has failed an English class throughout high school. Rumors have begun about the school board acting to change this. Some member up on the authoritarian food-chain is arguing for a creative writing credit to suffice as a regular English credit. Some may argue about how this is a great idea due to the No Child Left Behind mind-set; however, from a student perspective, it only seems to be rewarding those who have chosen to not succeed in a class.

In a regular English class, as mentioned before, certain standards have to be met. Argumentative, analytical, and inferential writings all have to be included in the curriculum to be recognized as an English class in the state of Oregon. Creative writing is not the same; this course is specifically designed to give students a breath of fresh air. Most of us have already analyzed informal articles to death. We want to expand the one writing skill that has been pushed to the back burner: creativeness. If a creative writing class can be taken to fulfill a missing credit, then teachers like Mrs. Stefani will have to integrate those formal standards in order to meet the credit criteria. The school board is, in a sense, punishing those who have already passed English nine, 10 or 11. Soon the fun, invigorating writing class will just be another non-fictional writing session. Hard-working students, like me, who want to enjoy a new, thought-provoking elective, would have to compromise for those who have chosen not to make an effort in high-school. Every child should have the chance to succeed, but when one does nothing with that chance, he/she should not be allowed to slide by with taking an elective credit to fulfill a formal English requirement. As a student, I am voting for the right to keep creative writing how it is meant to be: creative.

(Shelby Strout is a senior at McNary High School.)

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