I’m going to try to connect three things: this beautiful day in New Jersey, Pope Francis, and writing as pleasure.
I have just finished reading my new students’ responses to my initial inventory of their writing experiences. A few things are clear: for most of them, school writing has been a pain in the derriere. They don’t like to do it. They write about how they don’t like reading a text and having to analyze it. Boring (to write and to read). They don’t like writing for the teacher, having to guess at what he or she wants, for a grade. Somewhat surprising is how they mostly know that there is school writing (i call this fake writing) and non-school writing (real writing). They like to do the latter. Many of them persist in writing poems, stories, blogs, in spite of teacher’s attempts to promote writing as hard work, as pain.
Here’s my dream (unreal, I know): we could revolutionize writing instruction–get over this hard work, rigor ethos–mostly imposed on us from an external ideology; that we could make our writing classes fun, that we could self-correct writing activities that would entail avoidance rather than embrasure, that we as teachers could seriously reflect on how we got into this writing as pain ethos. I know that’s asking a bit much, but . . .
Where does this lovely day and Pope Francis fit in? I don’t really know, but I have a feeling about it. Something about communicating, being with others through writing rather than performing for our own materialist accumulation (like GPAs, metaphors for money).
It should perhaps go without saying that there is a link between writing and learning for pleasure. I know there are some people who think we need to know how to suffer, how to defer pleasure. Please.