Tuesday, October 20, 2015

"Threaten Them with an Essay" #SOL15

I sat in a meeting yesterday and listened to some of my colleagues discuss how to encourage students to register for college when we have our first "Focus on ISU Day." Our local university has declining enrollment from students in our county and the one directly to our west, so to increase enrollment for the 2016-17 year, we will take seniors to the lab and have them complete the admissions application. 

A colleague asked, "What do we do with students who insist they aren't going to college?"

In all seriousness, the question engendered this response: "Make them write an essay explaining why they aren't going to college." This response was echoed. 

One person said, "Threaten them with an essay." 

"Can we not punish students with writing?" I asked. 

How often have we English teachers used learning as a gavel rather than as a gift? 

Is it any wonder that the words "I hate reading" and "I hate writing" buzz in a cacophony of noise among many students. 

On this National Day of Writing, I have a simple wish. I wish students will see in their teachers the joys of reading and writing. For that to happen, we must stop with the threats. We must cease using writing as punishment. 


  1. Love your phrasing here - "learning as a gavel rather than as a gift." It is not just English teachers that do this! So glad you argued against using writing as a punishment.

  2. This is so true! I think we sometimes want to assign that essay to make students reflect on something - their decision not to go to college, for example, or why they felt hitting someone would solve their problems. But kids do see that as punishment. No wonder lots of them dislike writing.