Guiding Without Guidance?
Getting kids to enjoy writing, to create an environment which feels free, and not at all like school, like discipline, and like rigid order, is arduous…but TT Patton’s young writers have taught me that the trick is to scratch all of those things, and aim for a little bit of anarchy. Give a prompt, throw a little structure, inspiration, or exemplary work on the table, and let your kids roll with it. If I’ve learned anything from my campers here, it’s that they are far more imaginative than I am…whatever they conjure up on their own is richer, more unique than whatever instructions I could ever give them.
Embracing anarchy has always been a challenge for me, personally, as a type-A organization-lover and planner, but this really works. Begin with structure. And then, let every single one of your writers do their very best to dismantle that structure–it means they’re thinking about it…they understand it if they can systematically alter it. And when they do, don’t criticize incorrectness, don’t praise certain works as the best, and be gracious to every kid who trusted your tiny bit of vague instruction. Activities like these thirty-second writes provide a little more structure, but leave lots of room for exploration and ingenuity.
With camp beginning on Monday, I’ve ideas reverberating in my mind about just how best to implement my streak of anarchy. So, next week, TT Patton will be home to blindfolded description writing, haiku dice rolling, and a general lack of governance–it’s going to be beautiful. Send your creative young ones to come and join us for our first week of 2016’s writing camps–we still have a few slots available…check out all we’re offering on our summer camps page!