4 years ago5,000+ Views
"You just aren't good enough", my English teacher whispers, my freshmen year of high school. My hand is still stretched towards hers, the slip to get signed for 10th grade English honors facing upwards, the line for the signature blank. She sighs and grabs the paper an signs it anyway.
"You're writing really isn't good enough, but I'll push you through because you are an excellent reader."
I stare at her for a moment, unsure I heard her right. But I did.
And I continued to hear them all, year after year, whisper under their breath as if their soften voices would soften the blow of, "you really aren't good enough."
I guess that sick turning of my stomach when I found out I had to take a Creative Writing course my first semester of college should not have been surprising.
I called my parents in a panic as I kept repeating "I am not a good writer, how can I do this, how am I going to make it through a college writing class? I am not a good writer, I am not good enough."
In the months that followed, I call my Dad after each writing class, gushing about how much fun it was, how one time the teacher even read my story to the class, how it was my favorite homework to be assigned.
He's quite after one call and I wondered if he was even listening. I picture him sitting at the kitchen table reading the paper. His normal routine always interrupt by me Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
"I think," he starts, seeming to choose his words carefully and I become nervous at what he is going to say. "I think you should declare Creative Writing as your major". I stop my brisk walk from the classroom and stutter back a reply into the phone.
"Dad, I can't be a writer, I'm not good enough."
"It seems to me that your college professor thinks quite the opposite," and with that he hangs up.
Flash forward four years and I am graduating with a double degree in English and Creative Writing. I step forward with my degree, my $80,000 piece of paper clutched in my hand, and started scanning the crowd for my parents. Two of my english professors block my view before I could get back to my seat. I am suddenly enveloped in hugs and congratulations by my writing teachers, each demanding I keep in touch and keep writing.
It is a shocking difference to the attitude of my high school teachers. But it brings up an unfortunate problem with our school system.
I was constantly told I was not good enough by teachers, the people who I was raised to always believe were right and who were suppose to be encouraging. Instead they, ever so slowly brainwashed me into believing I wasn't good enough.
It was gradual. They were never mean, they were actually kind, but they would always remind me with each research paper given back, that my work should be better then this. That is not how teaching is suppose to be. They should have helped me more, they should have gone over my papers, they should have picked more interesting projects and books.
But to judge a students ability based on the way to structure high school English papers is just asking for trouble. I spent years of my life believing that all those stories I wrote when I was a kid were garbage. Meanwhile, I wasn't flourishing in high school because, as it turns out, I didn't give a crap about Beowulf.
Because our school system in America is on the decline, you must always remember to trust yourself. I knew I was a good writer when I was younger yet I let a few lazy teachers convince me otherwise. If you know you love something (even if you aren't good at it) do not let anyone make you second guess yourself. There are to many people that are still trying to force kids to conform to the mundane life of a 9-5 office job. Trust yourself, and above all believe in yourself.
And guess what? I'm a writer now. So thats a big screw you to the teachers who not only doubted me, but made me doubt myself.
@shannonl5 ugh i know right! my mom was a teacher for grade school and always complained about how stupid the assignments were! its just crazy that at such an impressionable age, teachers who have the power to change a life are stuck in political red tape! but I agree with you about Jane Austen I loved her but she left me craving for more female writers!
the teacher sounds like a real see you the following wednesday
I think what saddens me most is that kids are naturally curious. They want to learn, nobody has to force them. They just don't want to learn the same things. Why should a kid interested in building robots waste time learning how to write literacy criticism? Why should a creative writer waste time learning about mitosis? School should be a place where our interests are set free, not shoehorned.
I'm sorry you ended up with such a negative complex about your writing! I honestly feel bad for a lot of my teachers- it seemed like they would have loved to give us more interesting assignments, but they were stuck with a syllabus written by people that had never stepped foot in a classroom or spent any time with the age group being taught. I wanted to read more books by women, but Jane Austen was the only one on our approved list. The assignments where students had the most freedom were the ones my teachers seemed to like best. I'm actually reading a book right now written by a teacher who advocated dropping out and doing what you love! It's advice that's a couple years too late unfortunately.