Thursday, June 09, 2011

Free writing

Jonathan and I went to a homeschool conference back in April. We figured it might be good to gather up some ideas before @ really gets into the upper grades of elementary. We did homeschool kindergarten and it went ok. So we attended sessions on different things. I wanted to feel a bit more secure about Math and Reading in particular and I wanted to generate a bit more focus in the way of art and music. @ loves art and music and I feel bad that I don't have more focus. Anyway the art and music workshops didn't generate a lot of ideas. I needed more focus on early elementary than art history for high school/ college prep. I think I was able to generate some of my own ideas while listening in the workshops so the brainstorming was worth it. The math workshop made me embrace Singapore Math all the more and the reading workshop encouraged me that @ is doing just fine.

Jonathan and I saw a workshop on Saturday morning for writing. I had been to a writing workshop earlier in the conference and I was thinking on filling in the gaps. The first writing workshop was really excellent and encouraging. We woke up early, dressed, tried not to disturb anybody and hustled to this workshop. I was so ready for it be wonderful like the first one. Jonathan was ready for it to be wonderful, he didn't go to the first one with me. It wasn't. In fact it was completely AWFUL! It was antithetical to everything Jonathan and I believe about writing. No kidding. One of the suggestions was to stand over the new writing child and correct with every mistake. Literally every mistake. Crazy.

So for example. "The cat sat."

When child start to write the 't' , if child doesn't make upper case 'T', we send back to the beginning.

This is dictation so when child misspells "The", we send him back straight away to correct it.

When child start 'cat' and the 'c' is too close to the 'the' well, we make that child erase and give proper space.

We've corrected child 3 times and they haven't gotten to the second word! Crazy! And this is going to make my child want to write? No, actually that isn't the goal necessarily. The child may never like to write (quite obviously) but they should have to do it correctly.

Oh and what's better, we should do this kind of correction every time child puts pencil to paper. Every time! Even for fill in the blank science! And so Jonathan and I are scoffing silently in the back. I'm only half paying attention so that I don't end up throwing a chair. Jonathan as a writing teacher is at once dumbfounded and angry. So during this someone asks about journal writing. And the speaker lets off on journal writing. It's pointless. It's a waste of time. Scowling and muttering takes over for the Moore's. She just told a roomful of homeschooling parents that their child writing out their own ideas is pointless and counterproductive. Great, thanks for that. A generation of kids we don't need to worry about blogging I suppose. What bothers me more are all the women (homeschool writing workshops are 75 % women) writing this down. Well by the end of session, Jonathan and I were grumpy. Getting an elevator was a grumpifying process (more on that another time). I went and got expensive coffee and we agreed the next foreign language workshop would be better.

The foreign language workshop was better. It was great. The room was crowded. The speaker was electric. Jonathan shed his grump and I was on my way until my eye happened to see the notes of the woman next to me "Journal writing is a waste of time." In big letters on the middle of her page. My blood pressure shot up and my expensive good coffee was gone. Grumpy all over again.


All this to say, every afternoon @ and I will be journal writing. Why? Because it's pointless? Because I want @ to learn to enjoy the process of reflection. The process of refining. To see progression. I'm a believer in practice makes progress. It also means I get to practice my writing as well. Thus more blog entries riddled with grammar and punctuation errors that maybe I won't go back and fix!

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