Writing About Writing

So we have to construct a UGP – Unfamiliar Genre Project –  where we explore an unfamiliar genre, but still consider our touchstone beliefs as writers. To be honest, I have never really done this before with the mindset of practicing a new genre. Sure, I have written within so many genres: news articles, editorials, poetry, non-fiction, fiction, blogs, screenplay, bibliography, autobiography, and more ;but I never thought of them as genres, it was more of a style of writing. One particular genre, however, seems to stick out more.

Memoir.

I have never really written a memoir about my experiences, except for maybe this blog post here. I’ve tried to write a bit of non-fiction that sort of pertained to me, but it was more about others and their experiences, rather than my own. I’ve also written about myself, but memoir seems to just be different. I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger as a way to process my thoughts and my emotions, as if writing them down released them from me. But the poems were disjointed and random because I could write about anything that I felt, and they were rarely cohesive. So I haven’t really written exclusively about me.

I feel like this would be a nice genre to explore, because I can write about my experiences, which can be enlightening. I love writing, so why not try something new?

However, it needs to pertain to: What are your touchstone beliefs in the purpose of public education?

I have no idea. I know what my touchstone moments are, but I am still confused on what my touchstone beliefs are. But, I know what I want for education, so maybe they are one in the same. I know that I want to student to be first in education. So often education is treated as a business and those that make the decisions that directly effect the students don’t include the students in the conversation (speaking from personal experience). In my experience in high school, students didn’t really have a voice; we were simply told how things were and we didn’t have a say in any matter. It was frustrating, and I learned to value my own voice since I was a student, and wanted others to value the student voice and perspective. Hey! Maybe I could write about that.

But seriously – why isn’t the student the priority? Too often are students not considered and too often are they ignored. Hello? School is there for the students – and if it’s not then what are we doing? I understand money is involved, and there’s always an alternate agenda – but could we keep education for just the students? As a past student, a present student, and a future student, I would like to know that my school is making decisions that better my education instead of their paycheck. It sounds selfish, but that’s the purpose of education: to better oneself.

I hope that we uphold this priority, because in my experience it has only been upheld by the certain teachers I encounter.

But, maybe that’s the point?

As teachers we should hold our students as our priority. We need to. I mean, after all that is why we are teaching, right? I hope so. I have to admit, I have met some teachers that never planned to be teachers.  They just kind of ended up as a teacher because they couldn’t find anything else – and to be honest, they weren’t the best teachers. And in my experience, it was because they didn’t have the passion for students as the other teachers did. (Side note: neither did my principals. They all came from military backgrounds, so it was hard to connect with them on a teaching level).

We have a passion to teach and to learn ourselves. We have a passion to know why and how things work and why they were created or came to be. We have a passion for knowledge. We have a passion for students and their success within the “real world.”

Side note #2: funny thing about the “real world” -> we constantly prepare students for the Next Big Thing in their life. If you’re in elementary school, you’re being prepared for middle school. In high school, you’re being prepared for college. If you’re in college, you’re being prepared for the “real world” and even in the “real world” you’re prepared for the next promotion or the next job offer.

Never are we allowed to just be. I don’t always want to be in preparation mode, and luckily my teachers showed me how to be in Lauren mode, in student mode, in 17-year-old graduate mode. My teachers created an environment where I could step out of preparation and just enjoy myself. I would love to do that with my students with a Fun Day in class or something where their minds can drift (because let’s face it, they already do and this allows them to do it in a welcoming manner – especially when they are stressed because of the pressure we have given them).

Anyways, we all should have some amount of passion for our students or for the material we have come to love. I love books and poetry and I want my students to gain that passion to some extent, and I can help facilitate that environment in my classroom. Hopefully we are teachers who support our students and love on them as much as we can. It can get exhaustive, and is exhaustive, but we have such a unique position in their lives – which is why it is so important that our students come first in the process.

Mike Rose discussed how education has become very economically driven in his book, Why School? – but he is right. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if we make education purely for an economic benefit, we are missing out on a huge value: an investment in our people, our children, our country. Yes, it economically important and will probably always have economic benefits, but it also have individual impacts on each person, who can go out and do more than we ever dreamed of doing.

Education is a personal investment in people, where we believe in people – isn’t that amazing? That’s how I see education, and that’s how I want others to see it. There needs to be value in the students, and I want it to come from multiple tiers in the education branch.

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