Head of English
Human beings are natural storytellers, we always have been. Fairy tales, creation stories, and myth-making have been a part of our DNA for millenia; storytelling is how we have made sense of our world and our lives. It’s how we remember each other, ensuring our legacy continues on through our stories.
The desire to write and record our own stories for posterity can be traced back 17,000 years in Australia, with the oldest known rock art being found in the Kimberley region in the form of a red ochre kangaroo. And with the story of our First Nations peoples being at least 65,000 years old in Australia, it’s unlikely this will be the oldest form of storytelling to be discovered.
Despite this desire to tell our stories and be remembered through our words, we find that our secondary students can start to baulk at the idea of writing creatively or in a way that is personal and meaningful for them. They grow more and more comfortable with the idea of analytical writing, but unfortunately writing stories begins to seem a daunting task.
We, as the English Department at Loreto Normanhurst, are hoping to change that. Our two goals this year are to celebrate reading for pleasure and to pursue excellence and confidence in writing. We are breaking down barriers to writing by increasing the regularity of when our students write creatively, encouraging them to have fun, and not take it so seriously. And we also recognise the importance of putting our money where our mouths are, so to speak.
So we thought the best way to do this is to write alongside our students, sharing our work with them, and encouraging them to share their work with each other.
We want our students to pursue confidence in their writing as their goal, not perfection.
I remember reading somewhere that writing makes us superhuman in a way, giving us the ability to time travel. We can write something today and it can be read years in the future, giving someone the ability to travel back in time to hear our story, to know us and to remember us. This struck me as such a powerful idea; that our ability to write is a superpower that should be embraced. There is also a lot of research into the stress-reducing benefits of a daily writing habit, be that journalling, to do lists, writing poetry, songs or stories. Some people argue that writing should be like flossing – a daily habit.
All of this has inspired the English Department to launch our celebration of writing Loreto Write Now!, a 60 word writing competition promoted to students, parents and teachers who will all be encouraged to participate in writing one 60 word piece a week as part of a regular writing habit. There are no limits on the form that these pieces could take: poetry, narrative, creative nonfiction, or biography, to name just a few.
We will regularly publish our community’s creative pieces via social media for us all to enjoy, and the winners will be published in an anthology of writing in Term 4.
In this vein, one of our talented English teachers Miss Madeleine Conn has shared a poem that was published in the English Teacher’s Association 60 Word Story competition this year.
I hope you enjoy it and that it inspires you to start writing your own stories.
Ms Roseanne Timmins
Head of English
Who is speaking, thus?
a hand tugs letters into place,
Now rigid, inert beneath a pin;
Between – in glaring white space –
Reader, with one eye open, slouches in.
Expecting another detective brute
With a skirt on the side joining dots.
Below: author – deaf, blind, mute;
A Hollow Man floating amongst old plots;
The unread story was already read –
Born from words already said.