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Watching Them Grow

September 12, 2011

One of the real joys of teaching is how we can be consistently surprised by those we teach. I see a particular class just once a week, and they are an absolute joy. We’ve settled into a routine whereby I set them a ridiculously challenging task, and the following week, they meet it and exceed it. I have yet to discover where the bar is for this class. So far, I’ve had homework submissions for English in the form of songs (written, performed and recorded by 3 of the class), web pages, and writing… and what good writing!

They have inspired me to resurrect an old blog — http://pawriting.wordpress.com — I had wasting away so that I can highlight some of their writing. Most of what will be posted at the start of the term is pretty much as it’s submitted. No real marking or corrections from me yet, simply writing with all its warts and mistakes and glitches. We’ll be working on making changes and corrections in class, but I promised them that I’d post their work and we are already planning a real book (using something like Lulu.com) for the end of the year. In the meantime, the class would be over the moon if you could take a minute to drop by and leave the odd comment if you feel so inclined. Their latest writing task was to write about the following scenario:

You are visiting an old couple that you have known for a long time. The wife is very old and frail so her husband has to help her eat. As you watch this you begin to consider whether this is right.

As the husband finishes feeding her, you notice how old she really looks before realising that this is the fate that awaits all of us who live so long.

You might notice that this is actually an outline of the ‘plot’ of Iain Crichton Smith‘s poem, ‘Old Woman (And she being old)’, but that was a detail I didn’t share with the class until after I received the writing.

There are four stories up so far, with many more to follow, however, if you’ve time, you should start with The Familiar Stranger. I think it is exceptional, even with a few wee blemishes that will be fixed soon.

One thing I forgot to mention… all of these writers are between 12 and 13 years old. Now that truly is exceptional! Please go read, enjoy, and encourage!

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