Who knew? But why not? We have “talk like a pirate day”and “tequila day” and “brownie day” and “smile day” and
the list goes on… and we have today’s day! National Writing Day from the National Council of English Teachers. I was once an English teacher. Back in the 80’s and 90’s I taught English to those who didn’t speak English and English composition to those who had trouble expressing themselves in writing. I have some fond memories of those times so let’s take a stroll back in time.
The setting: a community college classroom; about twenty students or so; a chalkboard; and me. The task: write a five paragraph autobiographical essay. After the first draft is ready we have individual conferences so I can help with the editing. Student hands me a typed paper with a proliferation of lower case “i”s every time he is talking about himself. I correct him and tell him the rule about “I” and that it should be capitalized. He is baffled. He insists that if it does not start the sentence, he will not capitalize it. I stop trying to explain rules or use logic and ask him to just capitalize the “I” ; he agrees. However, the semester went downhill from there and he failed the class for not turning in work, not attending class, and not passing exams. He goes to the department chair to complain about me and after looking at his work and lack of work and poor attendance she tells him he’ll have to take the class over again. So he does, with me!
One interesting job teaching adults was at a kennel club, a place where greyhounds raced. Now I know nothing about racing greyhounds but that wasn’t a problem since I was teaching the maintenance and kitchen crews. We spent many days learning how to read the warning labels on various cleaning products, making sure folks knew not to mix random things together. I taught the names of tools, cooking terms, and basic English. It was so much fun and so rewarding to help people who were willing to work hard to make a better life for themselves and their families.
What I enjoyed about teaching adults how to write was helping them find their voice and discover their story. All people have a story and to write it and share it with others is a gift.
So today, or maybe tomorrow, write down some of your stories and share them with someone else, giving them a glimpse of yourself.