Boston — Workbooks, work sheets, pages of drill, filling in the blanks, one-word quizzes, vocabulary and spelling lists - they all have their place in the classroom.
But so do writing assignments.
Every day every secondary-level pupil - whether specializing in auto mechanics, chemistry, drama, or English literature - should write at least a paragraph.
One week the writing might be descriptive - for the student of auto mechanics , a written explanation of what an air filter is expected to do. For the young chemist, a description of an alkaline solution. For the thespian, a description of how one scene might best be expressed by the lead actor, and so forth.
Another week, the writing assignment might emphasize analysis. Another week, poetry. Another, dialogue.
Good writing, like good phrasing in music, comes from repeated attempts to express one thought. Even the most experienced instrumentalists will play a phrase over and over until they feel that it's correctly interpreted as well as musically accurate.
The experienced writer does the same; he works and works with a theme until he's sure his grammar is correct, but more, that he's said what he wanted to say in the most efficient and beautiful manner possible.
Elementary school pupils, too, need to spend some time each day writing sentences and paragraphs. They need, at times, to follow specific instructions, and at rarer times to be free to write what they want - to let their imaginations guide their pencils.
Schools as well as school districts need some means of displaying such writing - just as the athletes need to turn their hours and hours of practice into a game, and those in theater work need to put on a production.
A twice-a-year literary magazine is one method. Helping youngsters of every age to write complete books, cover them, bind them, and place them on a reserve shelf in the school library is another.
A twice-a-year science magazine is one method. Herein can be placed particularly interesting descriptions of experiments done by the school students themselves, as well as clear explanations of scientific breakthroughs found in professional publications.
If a school doesn't already have on staff two or more teachers for whom these magazines and book collections would be a natural outgrowth of their own writing and publishing, perhaps this is the sort of school project which might well be done by a part-time educator. Someone in the community, along with the regular teaching staff, can handle the editing and printing chores, as well as doing the reading and editing of the material written by the youngsters.
And to have time in school for more writing, perhaps there will need to be less use made of workbooks, work sheets, pages of drill, filling in the blanks, one-word quizzes, and vocabulary and spelling lists.