Insights from Morton High

Going naked in public

Writing is a little like undressing in public. When you make a mistake, you can't even say you've been misquoted! It's write (pun intended) there for God and everybody to see. That is why writing is a little like undressing public.

English classes are beginning a research and writing project on the West, a subject close to home on which we have quite a bit of information. No matter how much information is available, however, it doesn't change the fact that writing is often a difficult and painful process. Perhaps one best taught by an artist, because just like art, writing exposes us at our deepest and often most private level.

Even the subject we're interested in tells a tale about us. Do we want information on the churches in the Old West or on its outlaws? Finding information is only the first step. Next a decision must be made about what is important and what isn't, whether the subject should be narrowed or expanded, or what notes should be taken and what left out. Are our sources sound? Next, the final and most difficult step involves transforming this information into our own work. This is generally when the writer starts to agonize.

Being a librarian involves not only purchasing books and materials that contain the information teachers and students need, but also helping them sift through it to separate the chaff from the grain. The new technology that will soon be part of the Morton High School Library will help students do just that, but the primary responsibility of digesting what's important, forming opinions and expressing them, remains the difficult and often embarrassing task of the student writer.

Return to Karen's Columns

Return to Karen's Homepage