Friday, February 1, 2013

A Reluctant Writer


Boy Scouts is a mysterious thing to me.  I grew up with all sisters, so all of this Pinewood Derby/Den Meeting/Pack Meeting/Blue and Gold Banquet/Court of Honor stuff is tooooooootally new to me.  And, honestly, I still don't understand a lot of it.

My mom is the Bear Den leader in her ward.  And Dylan happens to be a Bear.  But Dylan's mom (moi) is too stressed out to try to get all of the little requirements done for him to get his Bear patch.  (I think the moms should get awarded those patches, instead of the boys.  Because if everyone else's boys are like mine, they don't give a rat's arse about getting their patches.  Unless they can just get them for doing nothing. Then they're all for it.)  So my dear mother offers to take her Bear grandchildren in with her regular Bear kids and do the activities that may not have been checked off the really long, really complicated list. 

The woman is a saint.

Honestly, the only reason Dylan got his Bobcat and Wolf patches was because of my mom.

One of their requirements in Bear is called "Jot it Down."  It's what Mom calls one of the "boring requirements," so she saves those for the winter.  They do the fun, outdoorsy stuff when it's not 10 below zero.  Which, you know, makes sense.

So I sent Dylan over to do the "Jot it Down" thing at Mom's house.  And, from all reports, for Dylan, it was like pulling teeth.  They had to write a thank you note, and I think they wrote something else, and then they had to take part in making a Den newsletter.  (Even though Dylan isn't officially part of their den.) 

So Mom sits the kids down and says, "Okay, you need to write about one thing we've done in the past year or so in our den.  Then we'll put them all together and print them out into a newsletter that you can give to your parents."

One kid wrote about the Pinewood Derby, one wrote about the Sock Ball fight, etc.  What did Dylan write about?  Basically, about how much he hates writing.  Here's the whole newsletter:
And here is a close-up of Dylan's "article":
Before we move on, may I point out two things?  1)  I am really crappy at using Gimp (the free, crappy version of Photoshop), so look how I made everyone's name private - by putting white labels on them.  I have nooooooooooo idea how to, like, virtually "white them out."  It's sad.  Just sad.  It took me two hours to figure out how to crop a picture the other day.  I'm not kidding.  I'm a technophobe.   And 2)  Notice how Mom called the newsletter the Bear News-Cessities.  How creative is she???  Love her.

Dylan's "article" - I feel the need to put quotes around it, not because it's grammatically correct to do so, but because I am feeling a lot of contempt toward it - reminds me of these journals I used to have my students do when I taught 8th grade.

Everything I had been taught in college was that, if you wanted your students to become good writers, they had to write a lot.  So this is what I did for "bell work."  I would put a topic on the overhead and make them write for ten minutes about it.  It shushed them down at the beginning of class and got them into writing mode.  And I did read every single one of those journal entries, first of all, because I loved learning more about each student.  And secondly, because if I didn't read them, they would've caught on, and then they would've written crap.  Or filled up the paper with stuff like, "blah blah blah blah" or "I'm writing I'm writing I'm writing I'm writing."  Trust me - I had a few try that on me.  They had all kinds of tricks.  I had to be all specific and tell them that they had to fill up at least ten lines on their paper, margin-to-margin.  So then they would write really, really huge.  So then I had to tell them that they couldn't write really, really huge.  It was ridiculous.

My favorite thing was when a kid thought I wasn't reading all the journals, and he (it was always a he) would write, "Mrs. S is making me write this journal, and I hate it.  I hate writing.  I don't know why we have to write all the time.  I think writing is stupid.  I think this class is stupid.  So that's how I feel about it.  The end."  But without periods or apostrophes or anything grammatical like that involved.

And when I say it was my favorite thing, I'm being facetious. 

It pissed me off.

So I'd write some snarky note at the top of the journal entry, like, "Wow, I really appreciated your attitude on this entry.  It was neat-o."  And then put a big, fat F on it.

The jerks.

They soon learned that I do read all the entries and that they do not want to piss Mrs. S off.

Good times.  Good times.

In "the business" of English teaching, we referred to people like Dylan as "reluctant writers."  We also had "reluctant readers."  Which were always the same people that were the reluctant writers.  Dylan has had very little writing homework, but when he has, he just....cannot stand it.  I practically have to duct-tape him to the chair to make him get it done.  And then he wants me to compose his writing for him while he copies from me. 

Um, no.  Not gonna do that for ya, babe.

He also hates reading.  He does the necessary reading time for homework, and that's IT.  Sadie's the same way.  Hates reading.  Hates writing.  Looooves math.  It's sad, really.  Maybe one of my other two will inherit my writerly gene.  (Yes, I like to write.  Have you noticed???)

1 comment:

Rachel Barnard said...

Just so you know. Cannon hated, hated! reading until this year (6th grade) and then something clicked and I can't keep a book out of his hands! It is insane. I don't know if he just needed to find the right book or what. Andrew on the other hand still hates reading and is in 9th grade. You can't win them all I suppose!

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