Here at Chicken and Frog we understand the importance of writing. Of course we do; it goes hand in hand with reading. As a teacher, I guide children through what I call the secretarial skills of the process – the grammar, spelling, the physicality of writing, structure etc. And whilst these elements are important, for me, the creativity and therapeutic nature of writing are key. Yes, a person should be able to construct a letter, a C.V., even a note; these practical elements of writing help us through life. Rightly, or wrongly, without skills such as these, it can be a struggle to access all that we are entitled to in this world.
But, the absolute joy of writing is that it can act as a gateway to another world, or help us to clarify our thoughts cohesively and coherently. I am in awe of authors who take the step to set their writing free, into the world. It is such a personal journey, that to share the end result with others is rather brave. My witterings are one thing. They are, believe it or not, edited and tweaked along the way, but a ‘real’ body of work is far more important. Even if it is not to everyone’s taste, what an author does is inspirational.
The difficulty is that the curriculum does not give much time to true creative writing, in the sense that it can be completely personal, and private. Teachers must teach to a standard, which means that both teachers and students have targets to meet. This is not a blog from a jaded teacher, I am not going to digress into a rant about education reforms and the like. Quite frankly, others have said their piece far more eloquently than I ever could, so I shall leave that thought there.
However, I am interested in the therapeutic properties of creativity. Drawing is not a skill that I possess and my musical ability? Let’s just say that I can clear a room in a matter of moments. But, writing. Writing I love and know a little about. I am not an expert, but I do know that if given the freedom, tools and encouragement to do so, a person’s writing can literally change the world.
To that end I am a woman of two halves. When I am wearing my teacher’s hat, I need to keep in mind the hoops of the curriculum, so that my students can cope and achieve to the absolute best of their ability in that world. But, when I am just being myself, the designated adult in the creative writing club, well that’s a different story. Doodling, crossing out, editing, not editing, completing a piece, leaving something unwritten…anything goes in that setting. And it works! We have children who have started off as non-writers, creating little in the course of 90 minutes, who evolve into avid writers. This is their safe and happy place. No judgements are passed, their writing is theirs to do with what they want. Some choose to share it, others don’t. It is a true privilege to gently guide children through their own process.
If you know of a child who is bursting with ideas, but is unsure of how to express themselves on paper, then perhaps finding a writing club is the way to go? You never know, it may be just what they need!