Nagging or Negotiating?

I’ve been meaning to post an announcement (ta da!) for Annie — she passed her summer math class after all and is now happily enrolled in Math for Educators, the first math class she has ever loved. On the first day of classes, she told me that she was just going to drop from the new class and see if she could enroll late to repeat Math 90. I suggested that she talk to both teachers. “They might say no, Annie,” I told her. “They have a right to say no. But you have a right to ask.” First her Math for Educators teacher said she could stay in the class regardless. Then her Math 90 teacher recalculated the grade and discovered that Annie had a 2.2. Annie texted me (about 20 times) and came home for dinner BEAMING.

In my Creative Nonfiction class, my students listed trips, events, and 30 chapters, then chose one story to freewrite on in class. I challenged them to include some dialogue. When we read aloud afterwards, one student confessed that he had a terrible memory. “I don’t think I can do this,” he said, meaning tell a true story. “I never remember what people say. I’m either going to have to make stuff up or drop out.”

I suggested he try harder, and this is where my “nagging or negotiating” title comes from. I think I nagged him to try. A better approach would be to negotiate. Not all essays, even in the category of “Creative,”  after all, include dialogue. Even in a true story, the narrator might admit, I can’t remember the specific words, but our conversation went something like this…

He could carry a notebook and jot down what he wants to remember. He may find himself remembering more.


0 replies
  1. abbiejohnsontaylor
    abbiejohnsontaylor says:

    I’m glad your daughter is doing better in math and seems to be enjoying it. As for creative nonfiction, I’ve had the same problem as your student when writing poetry about past memories. Sometimes, I don’t remember all the details. When I took a particular poem to my monthly group for critique, others said I should make up the details. I did that, and the poem seems to be a lot better.


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