Children's authors say curriculum hurts creative writing

Children's authors say curriculum hurts creative writing

A group of children’s authors, including this year’s Carnegie winner Tanya Landman, is preparing a letter to the education secretary protesting against the way writing is taught in schools.

The campaign, led by fantasy children’s writer C. J Busby and supported by 35 authors such as Sophia Bennett, Lydia Syson and Katherine Langrish, calls for education secretary Nicky Morgan to address the way teachers encourage children to use “interesting” words such as ‘wonderful’, ‘terrible’ or ‘minuscule, instead of ‘good’, bad’ and ‘small’, reports the Guardian.

Children are taught that complicated words are better alternatives to simple ones, meaning they “fail to understand the nuances of their use, and they also fail to realise that they are relatively unusual”.  

Busby posted a first draft of the letter on the ‘An Awfully Big Blog Adventure’ website earlier this month, in which she said the current method of teaching writing was “damaging” and means children’s writing “is in general less fluent, clear and engaging and has a tendency to be cramped, stuffy, over-complex and just plain poor in style”.

Schools are now under pressure for children to reach a ‘level’ of writing but they are being taught in a ‘rote’ manner that does not sit alongside their natural development of language, she added.

The letter urges the government to make it clear to teachers that complex vocabulary and sentence structure should be subordinate to clear and fluent writing. “Otherwise we risk producing a generation of children who believe that it is better under all circumstances to say: ‘I bounded excitedly from my cramped wooden seat and flung my arm gracefully up like a bird soaring into the sky’ rather than ‘I stood and put my hand up'."