Pencil to Paper

The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Wait… You Want Us to Do What? August 19, 2010

Filed under: Whatever — katblogger @ 9:32 PM

Ah… I haven’t been here for a while. The first week of school has already gotten me close to a nervous breakdown, but it’s all better now.

Anyway, those of us who are entering IB are learning a surprising fact:

Wait for it…

We’re supposed to come up with our own ideas.

Insane, right? I mean, when in the history of school have teachers asked you want you want to write your paper on? Very rarely, probably. Usually, it’s this kind of dialogue:

Teacher: Okay, class. You’re writing a short, 500 word essay on the Columbian Exchange. Make sure it’s in exact eleven sentence paragraph format, and covers this and that and… everything else.

Class: Right. Whatever you say.

Students who’ve made it this far are used to this. We’re good at it. We’re well trained to produce exactly what the teacher wants, getting gold stars and glowing reviews. For many of us – including me, to a certain extent – the idea of choosing our own topic is dizzying, even frightening. What if we choose the wrong thing? What if there isn’t enough information? What if the IB graders hate it? Ahhh! And then comes the legendary Junior year nervous breakdown, ahead of schedule. Of course, I’ve already witnessed one, so perhaps they can strike at any time.

So far, I’ve been asked to come up with an idea for a math and history project, not even thinking about the Extended Essay yet. It’s quite difficult. Many of my interests aren’t exactly fit for intensive research projects. My internal thoughts might go something like this: (and no, I don’t hear voices in my head. Much.)

Well… what on earth am I going to measure for math? Or write about for history? This is the first week of school! Why are they doing this to me. I could do something important sounding… but that’s just picking what they want to hear. Can they tell? And since when am I passionate about anything that can be transformed into a line graph? Just kill me now!

Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But for other people, it might not be. The thing is, school for most of our lives has been very clear and straight forwards. Throwing all this on us now is bound to freak us out. But that’ s not the IB’s fault. It’s the education system’s. Unless you’re in a gifted or advanced program, you may not get to use your creativity much. You might forget to use it. If I didn’t have my writing, I’m sure I’d be an empty eyed robot by now. So I guess what I’m saying is that we need to do this earlier – so that students can put more of themselves into the learning process. School would be a lot more fun if we always had a say. Maybe more people would enjoy it, instead of dreading late August and early September. By the time IB rolls around, if it does at all, it might be too late.


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