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Jul 09 2015
by Kalina Newman

Why the Decline of Creative Writing in Public Schools Matters

By Kalina Newman - Jul 09 2015
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Not everyone loves to write. There’s a reason eye rolls follow reminders of essay deadlines in English class because composing an assigned and formatted paper on a specific topic isn’t the greatest experience for anyone. Late nights creating MLA citations my sophomore year of high school made me realize something. I missed the freedoms of creative writing that came from elementary school and hadn’t had a chance to write like that in years.

I signed up for Literary Magazine class on whim, thinking it would be an easy credit and I would learn a thing or two. I was wrong, as the class ended up being one of my favorite high school experiences. My writing skills drastically improved, I overcame the fear of exposing my creative work to others and I even wrote a play that was put on by my school’s theatre department.

That’s why I couldn’t believe it when I heard that my county was having the class shut down.

“Lack of students who signed up next year,” an authoritative voice told my poor teacher. Wrong! We had met the requirement. Something didn’t seem right by how little reason we received and it broke my heart. After I sent countless emails to quite literally everyone, including the superintendent, school principal and every single member of the county board, I was told I would get in trouble if I kept prying.

My school’s Literary Magazine class was my only outlet for creative writing in the four years I attended high school. “Just make it an afternoon club,” we were told. In today’s age where it takes no less than a plethora of a dozen activities to sprinkle on college resumes, absolutely no kid has time to meet every day to write. If I hadn’t had the class time, I wouldn’t have had time to write at all. By the administration telling us they didn’t want one class period for creative writing, they were telling us it didn’t matter at all.

Finally, as several students got their parents to compose emails to send to staff requesting that the class not be canceled, I had my school principal forward my father’s words to the superintendent. I guess it took the taxpayer’s mouth to finally open their eyes because after weeks of trying, it was announced that they would keep the class.

Next year at Boston University, I will have to take two semesters of required writing seminars. I will be attending the Communications College with a leg up from not only months of preparation in Lit Mag workshops, but from experience as editor composing the physical magazine we distributed each year. I have Lit Mag to thank for this, as I doubt I would be even going on this path or even writing for Fresh U without it. Creative writing is a virtually free, enriching experience that every kid should have the opportunity to enjoy in their high school career.


Lead Image Credit: Unsplash

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Kalina Newman - Boston University

Kalina Newman is a freshman at Boston University attending the COM School and planning to major in journalism. In high school, she was editor for her school's literary magazine and co-captain of the varsity women's rowing team. When not rowing, she's exploring her hometown of Washington, D.C. You can catch her on both Instagram and Twitter @kaleenex!

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