Growing up in Kuruman, I was a regular at our local library. I read everything that grabbed my attention and to this day I am glad that my mother never monitored what I read. I have since discovered the power of reading and I’m a tireless advocate for reading.
What I have recently discovered though, is the power of writing – particularly that of freewriting – with high school learners.
I have been working as a facilitator on a pilot programme called Writesmart, a creative writing course for learners designed for FunDza by Sandra Hill. It has been an adventure I can’t quite articulate, getting into an uncertain space with a detailed session plan and eager students to discover and to learn. I’m working with the learners of Thaba Jabula Secondary School, where I run the sessions with a Grade 9 teacher, Sven Glientenberg, as well as with learners from OLICO Youth. I have taken over at OLICO Youth from Maxine Schaefer as the literacy coordinator.
At the beginning of the pilot I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but now I can safely say I got myself into discovering the layers of magic. I have spent the last two months watching students blossom and transform from caterpillars into brightly-winged butterflies.
Being a fan of The Great South African Bake-Off, my tagline before pressing on the clock to get the learners freewriting is: “On your marks, get set, BAKE!!!”
Everyone has been a really good sport. They have embraced the pilot and they have grown in their writing. They have taught me that writing isn’t just for authors but for all human beings with an voice. In a fiercely developing digital era, I am so grateful that FunDza thought it necessary to equip high school learners with this magical tool. The writing is giving birth to a generation of articulate learners who can document their world, share it and sprinkle their magic all over it.