I’ve been teaching a class at Op Camp’s Fun Academy, a summer program offering a variety of classes for the campers. Over the last two days I have attempted to work on creative writing skills with my class of around 15 elementary students. We ripped apart old books and I tried so very hard to be creative and fun and inspiring. Yet part of me feels like I failed.
I don’t know if I taught the kids anything they’ll remember. Most of them don’t seem to care too terribly much about writing. I don’t know how to make them like it, I don’t know if they are bored silly or if they think it’s all stupid.
I guess you'd say I had what I’d now call a rather high expectation in my head. I hoped they’d write something incredibly and surprisingly creative and refreshing, something only the insight of a child could bring. Maybe I just haven’t seen it yet, but oh how I want to.
I want to see them hold the world in yellowed pages, to watch their faces illuminate as their creative power surges through the tip of a ball point pen. I want them to know their ideas have power, but what can I do to teach them that?
When I was their age, I had people who told me I could write. There is a long line of cheerleaders along the way who told me not only that I could write, but that I must. Of course like most elementary students, I didn't pay much attention to those words then, but I remember them now. My turn to tell others I see the same in them is only beginning.
I have one class left to teach this week. I'm not quite sure what more I can teach 15 elementary students in 45 minutes. Probably not much, if anything.
It will most likely involve scissors and double-sided tape and felt tipped markers and assorted colors of yarn. The edges will be rough, the sharpies will bleed through, there will be misspelled words. And that thought comforts me. I somehow know I didn't fail because I see pride and creativity bleed through the silly writing activities. They made something, they thought, they wrote. And in the mess of the whole ordeal, they were wonderful and fun.
Considering how inadequate I felt as a teacher, I'd probably bet I learned more than the kids. I learned to find the beauty in frustrations. I learned to always count the tiny victories. I remembered that I really love to write. I learned that double-sided tape is always a good idea.
Maybe the kids learned something too. Someday, they might remember the crazy girl who told them their words have power to change the world. Maybe one night down the road, they will stay up late to think and create and dream and pray and write in pages untouched by the words of another. I just might be crazy enough to believe it can happen.
There are plenty of blank pages in the world, but who is going to tell the kids that they can fill them?
Maybe it's me and you.