Lately instead of writing and editing my own words, I've been helpin my 14 year old son write and edit his. His English homework load has been crazy and I've noticed an interesting trend. Every assignment comes with the question, how can you relate to this story. The teacher wants the students to compare the story to what is happening in their own live regardless of whether it's a short story about a boy who is killed because he's in a gang or a comic about a fifteen year old boy who doesn't understand his parents. They are talking a lot about identity right now and have been watching My So Called Life, which for a boy is pure torture. Even though the themes relate to his life, he doesn't want to say in an essay that he's felt alone or has been bullied or hates his parents, which he doesn't. Sometimes he finds himself making stuff up because he doesn't want the teacher to know personal stuff about him.
I've been pretty closed off most of my life. I only share personal stories with those who are nearest and deariest to me. I find it a little intrusive for a teacher to expect their students to have to share things about their lives that are maybe personal.
I know as writers we need to expose the emotions of our characters and sometimes I struggle with that because I close mine off a lot. Maybe these exercises would be good for me to do.
How about you do you think teachers should be asking for personal stories from their students and how they can relate to bullying, gangs and identity? And do you have an hard time expressing the emotions of your characters or am I the only one.