Educational institutions have guided students away from developing their literary voices and styles with the education system’s growing focus on standardized, formulaic writing. Schools need to increase their investment in the arts, through courses such as creative writing, in order to provide students with the skills to master academic writing while embracing creativity and originality.
Most current college students have struggled through the current standardized-test-oriented nature of high school programs, which serve to educate students efficiently. But if this approach to learning leaves behind skills such as critical thinking and academic originality, is it really efficient?
An editorial piece in the L.A. Times observed that American schools have started to use essay-grading software designed to correct students’ essays through digital recognition of sophisticated vocabulary or identification of fragmented sentences. But the problem with the software is that it only corrects structural or strictly grammatical mistakes, leaving the students with no feedback on equally essential writing components, such as meaning behind fancy words and development of style and voice.
By using this type of software, a schools’ message about writing can be only that structure is more important than substance. This approach to grading, which forces a similar approach to teaching, disregards the artistic side of writing, and causes students to conform to a structure of five-paragraph essays, turning writing into merely a formula.
At this point, creative writing should be reintroduced to students. Not only should it be studied through literature, but it should also be practiced by students with the intent of transforming and improving their writing abilities.
Creative writing stimulates students’ imaginations and encourages a fresh approach to academic writing. After learning the common rules of formal writing, students can delve into the artistic side of writing, experimenting with original ways to communicate ideas and argue stances, thus strengthening their power of persuasion through words. Creative writing would help students rise above the five-paragraph-essay style by challenging their imaginations to approach academic writing in more interesting and engaging ways.
Writing, yes, is a medium of communication, but it’s also an art. Essay-grading software and writing formulae exclude from writing one of its most important components: freedom of expression through both meaning and structure. And creative writing is the link that can connect students back to originality and stylistic mastery in writing.