Let's Get CREATIVE!


During a few of our online ‘literary forays’, we came across a few articles and research papers that were pushing for schools to incorporate creative writing programmes into their language curricula. We noticed that most of these articles stated that there is a general misconception surrounding creative writing programmes; which is that they are frivolous endeavors that do not directly address the language components tested in formal examinations. We felt that this perspective seems to be rather prevalent and is backed up by thoughts such as “Why spend our money on a programme that does not provide practice for either of the papers that are being tested? Isn’t it just a waste of resources?” Well, no- and we are not just saying that for the sake of an argument. We have seen children reaping the benefits of creative writing programmes, as the confidence that they build to express themselves through these programmes, helps improve their performance in their language papers as well.


Firstly, let’s clear the air on something- “Creative Writing” is not a fancy name given to a programme that works exclusively on your composition writing skills. It is a comprehensive writing programme that touches on different forms of narratives and exposes students to various literary styles. Hence, activities can range from poetry writing to even script or memoir writing. Although none of these tasks are tested in standardized national examinations, they play an important role in developing a student’s language ability and moulding them into effective communicators. How? Take a look at the list below, which states the notable benefits of enrolling students in a creative writing programme.

Creative Writing programmes:


1. Are a fun and easy way to improve grammar and vocabulary. A typical grammar lesson is usually conducted in a rule-based, uncommunicative manner. While this may have worked for previous generations, where rigidity was expected and appreciated in schools, it is no longer the ‘go-to’ pedagogical approach. Hence many teachers nowadays, have grammar and vocabulary games at their disposal to keep their lessons snappy. While these games are great additions to any lesson plan, teachers should also consider adding creative writing programmes to their list of resources; as these courses do not just teach grammar rules or help memorise new words, they also focus on variations of language usage and self-expression. Consequently improving overall knowledge retention. Creative writing programmes manage to improve students’ vocabulary and grammar by giving them the freedom that is absent in typical grammar classes. This is possible because creative writing tasks like poetry writing manage to focus on both form of language and meaning of words simultaneously, whilst giving students the liberty to express themselves. This creative ‘space’ relaxes students, allowing them to use words or phrases that they have picked up subconsciously. This, however, might not be possible in academic writing settings, as they are constantly under pressure to “make sense” and “write correctly”.


2. Develop thinking skills. Creative writing tasks such as story or play writing help students develop various thinking skills. Students begin thinking of cause and effect while developing a story. They also improve their visualization skills when they develop aspects of the story such as setting, characterization and character actions. Additionally, certain creative writing tasks, especially those that involve writing for specific scenarios or stimuli (e.g. comic strip writing), also allow students to come up with creative responses; extending their language usage beyond formal settings. Most creative writing sessions also encompass a sharing/presentation session with their peers. These sessions help develop students’ analytical skills as well, as they learn to provide constructive feedback.


3. Allow students to build their own ‘voice’. Creative writing sessions do not have hard-and-fast rules about content and expression. Hence, students have an avenue to explore their feelings and thoughts. This gives them an opportunity to develop their own voice and in turn, build their confidence. In the long run, this enables students to cultivate their own opinions and get comfortable with expressing them, eventually moudling students to become better communicators. In fact, exercises that help develop students’ individual voices will also aid in their language mastery, as there are language acquisition studies, which state that finding your emotional voice in a specific language is vital to mastering that language (Smith, 2013).


4. Teaches essential life skills. There are several soft skills, which can be developed by the tasks involved in creative writing programmes. For example, students learn empathy when they work on developing characters in their stories, plays or comics, as they have to explore the characters’ perspectives. The presentation/sharing sessions are also helpful; as they push students to put their works up for criticism. This teaches them to give and receive constructive criticism whilst practicing empathy and compassion. This emphasis on freedom of expression and mutual respect also provides a safe and comfortable space for students to socialize.


5. Includes students of all calibres. A typical classroom consists of students with mixed calibres. While formal lessons and academic-focused approaches are beneficial for high calibre students; these techniques can work against those who have lower language abilities. Creative writing lessons break this cycle, thanks to their inclusivity. This approach is possible in creative writing sessions, because more importance is given to students’ expressions than their abilities. Hence, lower calibre students can also partake in these classes with a level of confidence or interest, which they do not usually display in academic writing settings. Hence, making them more receptive to the lessons.


Images: Drawing, writing & presenting; they get to do it ALL in our creative writing programmes!


Sources:

1. ShortStoriesHelpChildren. (n.d.). Benefits for children writing short stories. Retrieved 07 02, 2015, from Let's Get Kids Writing: http://www.short-stories-help-children.com/benefits.html

2. myKidsy.com. (n.d.). Benefits of Creative Writing for Children. Retrieved 07 03, 2015, from myKidsy.com: http://www.mykidsy.com/benefits-of-creative-writing-for-children/

3. Ross, B. R. (2010, 07 20). Benefits of Literature. Retrieved 07 06, 2015, from education.com: http://www.education.com/reference/article/benefits-literature/

4. Gillespie, A. (2013, 09 26). Creative Writing in the classroom: five top tips for teachers. Retrieved 07 03, 2015, from theguardian: http://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/sep/26/five-tips-creative-writing

5. Sheaffer, A. (2013, 10 01). Why creative writing should be taught in public high schools. Retrieved 07 06, 2015, from Chicago Literati: http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-literati/2013/10/why-creative-writing-should-be-taught-in-public-high-schools/

6. Wallace-Segall, R. (2012, 10 04). A Passionate, Unapologetic Plea for Creative Writing in Schools. Retrieved 06 30, 2015, from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/a-passionate-unapologetic-plea-for-creative-writing-in-schools/263212/

7. Smith, C. (2013). Creative Writing as an important tool in second language acquisition and practice. The Journal of Literature in Language Teaching , 2 (2), 12-18.


So, have we got you thinking of giving creative writing courses a shot? If so, why not take a leap of faith with Brainworks Education? We conduct fun, educational and exciting writing programmes for students across various academic levels and schools in Singapore. Feel free to drop us a mail at hello@brainworks.sg today!

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