National Writing Project

“Our Wal-Mart Is Bigger Than Our Mall”: Writing That Matters

By: Suzanne Styron Edwards
Publication: The Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 3
Date: Summer 1996

Summary: When a newspaper writer identifies the hometown of her students as one of the fifty worst places to live in America, the students respond to him with passionate and successful writing.



The best school writing is real writing. When I plunged back into my classroom after a summer with the West Tennessee Writing Project, I brought this idea with me. By real writing, I mean writing that has an audience outside the classroom. Typically, I want my students to write about themselves or an issue that genuinely concerns them and then send their work off beyond the school room to a literary magazine, a newspaper, a politician, an author. But, of course, the opportunities for real writing, while theoretically limitless, sometimes wear a bit thin. We want our students to write about their concerns, not look around for something to be concerned about so that they can write.

That's why my students at Dyersburg High School and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Mr. Ken Mink. It was Mr. Mink who — in his innocence — riled us up to do some real writing.

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