Making the Grade

My first children’s and teenage summer camp is underway, which is the reason for my lack of blogging. Yes, yes, I know – I always have an excuse. They’re an excellent bunch. It’s amazing how much I get done with children and teenagers. They fly through the work and at breaktime run outside for games and fresh air to rejuvenate their minds. Adults, on the other hand, chat away during class time. They give feedback on each other’s work and encourage one other to keep writing when they feel useless and want to give up.
It makes we wonder at what age we stop believing that we’re any good. I’ve yet to teach an adult who really believes in their own writing. I think it must happen in secondary school when the grading system comes in. How does a teacher grade an English essay? Yes, I know there is structure, punctuation and grammar, but to me grading a story is like giving a painting by Cezanne marks out of one hundred. His perspective may be wrong (on purpose) and the colours unrealistic, but that’s how he saw it, and the overall impression is beauty.
My job as a teacher is to draw out whatever is in my students’ imagination, not to give it a mark out of ten. Anything unique and beautiful can’t score one hundred percent, anyway. Think of a rose – the blemished spots on its petals are what make it real and unique.
That’s what I tell myself anyway.
There is another reason for my writing this topic. Last week I received a professional critique for the opening chapters of my novel Soul to Soul. You can read the critique, and the chapters, on the following link on the youwriteon site.

The reviewer didn’t like my main character much. That upset me, but I’m getting over it.

Dealing with criticism. Hmmm… That’s a topic for the next day.