By Deb Rooney
Over the past couple of years, fewer and fewer students across the country are developing their own unique writing voices. This is not an issue specific to school structure, teacher acumen, or student ability as much as it is just the nature of the world today. Unfortunately, it is a massive problem that is impacting children in the classroom and beyond. Educators, advisors, and parents all need to work as a team to help develop young students to become confident and creative writers.
From elementary-age children writing sentences to high school seniors working on college essays, I hear “So what should I say?” or “Is this content right?” from my students. When I first started in the field of education I would occasionally hear these types of questions. Yes, students have always wanted to do well and receive high marks on papers. In years past, a subtle change or guidance was all that students needed to be set in motion and the next thing they knew they were writing intently on whatever subject matter they were focusing on. Nowadays, kids are often waiting to be told EXACTLY what to write. This now common practice has much larger implications in our world, limiting creative thinking and hindering the skill development of complex problem-solving abilities.
It is dangerous when children are not having original thoughts and opinions because they become reliant on people whom they believe know more or who confidently tell them what to think. Children would benefit if we all taught, coached, and advised them in a manner that helps them find their own route to where they should be as opposed to laying out a step-by-step game plan that is a panacea for everyone. We would all benefit if this world were filled with independent and creative thinkers. This starts with empowering students to be strong writers that use their own voices to communicate their ideas. I believe it is possible, but it starts with adults both inside and outside of the classroom changing their approach.