As a writing instructor, parents often seek guidance in choosing classes. Often, they are surprised when I suggest Techniques of Creative Writing or Poetry as a follow up to Writing 5 Paragraph Papers or when I suggest Journalism after Rhetorical Analysis. Soon they come to realize that writing across genres is not a deviation from the plan, but the creation of a more perfect one!
Learning to write across genres is similar to exposing a football player ballet. Each discipline strengthens a different skill and supports the overall excellence of the athlete. Writing is no different. Poetry can strengthen vocabulary and word choice while Writing the Short Story stretches the creative muscle. These skills, when taken and applied to an academic writing course, can propel a young writer to a new level of proficiency and enthusiasm.
Writing across genres also builds confidence. A writer who struggles with thesis writing and MLA format might soar in imagery and syllabic haikus. Finding success in one genre can build the desire to apply oneself more fully to another. Success often breeds succcess!
But perhaps the most prominent reason to expose student writers of all ages to many genres is to allow them to find a style that they enjoy. They may even find a passion!
A Passion for Journalism
About 6 years ago, I had a high school student who was progressing steadily from one academic writing course to the next. She was doing well and building proficiency, but she wasn’t enjoying the courses. Writing was something she was learning, but it was also something that she couldn’t wait to put behind her.
Then she took a Journalism course.
And everything changed.
The short paragraph structure, emphasizing clarity and concise language, suited her writer’s voice. She found her niche with interview skills and hard news articles – and she was hooked. Soon she was applying to college with the intent to major in media and journalism.
The academic writing courses were important to her foundational writing skills, but if she had not tried a new genre, she may never have found her passion for writing!
So let your student experience all kinds of writing. Try them all and embrace the challenges and thrills that each genre contributes to their overall skill!