Frank McCourt's book Teacher Man is a biography that focuses on his days in the classrooms of New York City teaching English to some rather unenthusiastic students. As the teacher, he frequently received notes from parents explaining why their children had missed school. Mr. McCourt knew most of these notes were forged, but he didn't do much with them - preferring to stuff them in a drawer. One day he got an inspired idea to get students to write. He noticed that many of these creative notes were some of the best writing he had ever seen his kids do. So, he decided to analyze the notes with his kids to learn what made them such good writing. After their brief analysis, he assigned students the task of writing excuse notes for Adam and Eve. His previously lethargic students couldn't wait to put their pencils to paper. He even dared to assign the rest of the note as HOMEWORK!
Mr. McCourt discovered that his student could indeed write creative, well thought out letters if given the proper audience and purpose for writing. He went on to have student write excuses for historical and literary figures which earned him praise from the Superintendent of schools.
This story reinforces one our Halecrest beliefs that an authentic audience and purpose for writing is essential if students are to invest themselves in their writing.