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Why Is This Homeschool Student Afraid To Write
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It may begin when a parent or teacher says, "I've got a writing assignment for you and-," but before she finishes the sentence the writer feels fear rushing through his or her body. It's not the same kind of fear we feel when we hear a strange sound in the middle of the night, but it's enough to make us noticeably uncomfortable or even depressed. Not to worry. We all feel that twinge of fear when we know that a new pair of eyes is about to gaze upon our words. Like speakers who feel an anxiety when about to deliver a speech, students often feel a pressure or nagging belief that their words will somehow end up hurting them or causing them a lasting embarrassment. Knowing that the feeling is widespread, is there anything we can do before it throws us into full-blown writer's block?
Understandably, we often fear that someone is going to make fun of our writing, or that our words are going to end up as arrows in someone else's quiver. Students often think that what they write will cause other students to snicker or take offense. Why, we know not why. Language, and the many meanings it can convey, remains a mystery to all of us. If students feel that their writing could embarrass them, they should set up a chat with a parent or teacher. Usually, a teacher can give students good ideas on how to make sure their writing does not become an enemy. When we look at a final draft, we want to feel proud, not fearful.
About the Guys Who Think Writing is a "Girly Thing"...
For reasons far beyond this writer's comprehension, a lot of male students still think writing is something only girls can do, should do, or want to do. Some guys think it's akin to signing up for a class in cooking. Nothing, or at least almost nothing, is further from the truth. Writing skills know no gender. For the record, writing is not sissy work, even when a lot of educated people claim that girls are better at writing while boys are better at the sciences. The act of writing does, in many cases, call for writers to write about feelings otherwise kept secret, but does that mean writers themselves are somehow effeminate? For example, this writer would not have wanted to throw words such as "sissy" at boxing writers like Norman Mailer or Earnest Hemingway. I might have found myself nursing a black eye.
Part of the problem could be that many fathers tell their young sons to "keep those feelings hidden, buried, keep a straight face, be detached, calm and cool." Male students take advice like that too far, thinking they should adopt a writing style that is totally void of feelings or introspection. If a writing assignment calls for a response that could be called "emotional," most boys shy away, preferring to play video games, kick footballs or swat baseballs. Although many male students with similar beliefs continue to write while still maintaining their so-called "Alpha-male" status, a lot of boys feel that writing is somehow effeminate. The irony, of course, is that readers can rarely tell the difference between a story written by a boy and one written by a girl.
Then There's Privacy...
Another growing concern today is privacy, especially when we put profile information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Many students have written subjective comments that later came back like a bad boomerang. Writers should not throw words around just because they're mad at someone or think they need to get even with someone or some thing. The best decision is one that keeps the writer's name and reputation out of the line of fire. Putting sensitive information on the internet, for example, is a bad idea. Many are the students who are sorry today for something they wrote yesterday. Many teachers continue to remind students not to put that kind of information (names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) on the internet. There is no need for anyone to shy from writing because of the so-called privacy issue. What students write should be safe as long as they do not volunteer information that will come back to haunt them-especially information that gives spiteful and cruel people what they want-someone's personal information. Students should keep hard-copy writing assignments in a folder or, if they're creating files on a computer, in a document protected by a password. Final reminder: spoken words disappear quickly. Written words stick around for a long, long time.
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