I have been thinking about my current dilemma.

I am the subject of criticism and the object of masochism. My philosophical belief in rewriting assignments has me stuck in a metaphysical game of tug-of-war.

In most areas of my life, I have high expectations of myself, and when I fall short of these expectations for perfection, I gnash my teeth, internally deride my ego, and generally castigate my id repeatedly. Usually after a good episode of self-flagellation, I try remind myself, tomorrow is your rewrite. Learn from the mistakes, begin again, forgive yourself, and get over it.

I often use this metaphorical approach when dealing with students. They can learn from mistakes, and for so many (as it was with us adults), high school is this messy place in the drafting of our story. One mistake in high school should never be fatal, a less than stellar essay should never dramatically affect a final grade, yet life has consequences. In many areas of life, there is no room for error, no forgiveness, no rewrites.

Another issue with rewrites is that my approach impinges on the classroom teaching of others whose beliefs around rewrites may differ from my own. I had this discussion with a colleague this week, and she reminded me that we have Ministerial documents that support my belief in rewrites. Yet despite all the doctrine and theory, there are the practicalities of teaching – sixteen hours of marking essays last weekend. Practically speaking, I missed two full days with my husband and kids. Practically speaking, I began the week feeling mentally fatigued.

I shared my dilemma with the class, and they thought about it carefully. They talked openly, without reservation, and proposed solutions. While we did not find a workable solution in the few minutes of discussion, the act of sharing my dilemma moved the fundamental act of critical thinking from the fictional world to the real world.

Hmph. I guess dilemmas aren’t so bad after all.

About melaniewhite2012

I am a high school English and Media Studies Teacher, an editor, and writer of educational publications for McGraw-Hill Ryerson, Ltd, and a mother of three. I distance run, exist largely on raw food, fresh air and sunshine, good literature, thoughtful radio, film, and laughter.
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1 Response to Rewriting?

  1. nealrice says:

    Another thought in support of rewrites is the preparation of students for university. Not only does it allow students to see a broader picture of the question at hand, but it also teaches them to read the paper requirements fully and thoroughly before starting. It is so easy to miss a sentence in an essay requirement which can change the entire look and feel of that essay.

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