Op-ed: Teachers should prioritize All Write Festival

Caleb Bolin
News/Feature Editor

Comedian Sara Schaefer tells one of her stories in Roberts Gym as part of last year’s All Write Festival. Photo by Cole Schnell

Comedian Sara Schaefer tells one of her stories in Roberts Gym as part of last year’s All Write Festival. Photo by Cole Schnell

All Write Festival–a week-long affair that brings together respected musicians, journalists, filmmakers, comedians and other notable figures, and students with creative ambition– is entering its third year at Webster.

This year’s lineup of guests will be the most extensive in the festival’s short history, including some 45 speakers/performers–15 more than the previous year’s lineup.

Students also can sign up for a variety of workshops, focused on poetry, screenwriting, children’s books and a wide range of other topics.

Though the All Write Festival offers a great variety of opportunities for students to learn about various career paths and tapping into their own creative potential, it can be difficult for students to listen to every speaker they find interesting or to attend a workshop. Each hour of the day during the festival, a lot of things are going on, and sometimes two events can be held during the same hour. With so much going on, it can be difficult for students to choose which event they would like to attend.

To make matters worse for students, many teachers make it hard to attend All Write events during their hour. Some subjects–particularly the fine arts and English classes–go to several events throughout the course of the week, but others–like math, science and other subjects less directly related to the All Write content–may not go at all.

Teachers of subjects not related to All Write may believe the festival has nothing to do with what their students are learning. That attitude is eerily similar to the selfish, closed-minded outlook that has led our country to become more and more divided and unwilling to compromise.

Students are not strictly mathematicians or scientists every waking hour of the day. Students are humans, and All-Write’s guests and workshops touch on how people can better get in touch with their humanity.

As Robin Williams’ character said in “Dead Poets Society,” “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race, and the human race is filled with passion, and medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life, but poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

“To quote from Whitman, ‘O me, O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless…of the cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here–that life exists and identity; that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

Williams’ character, though speaking of poetry, makes an important point about the fine arts and humanities in general. He dares to ask the important question: what will we, as living human beings, contribute to the world? What will our verse be? Students may never learn how to contribute their own verse to the powerful play that is life if they are not afforded the chance to learn about how they can do so.

Teachers of all subjects should prioritize the All-Write Festival. At the end of the day, students are, most importantly, human and can learn from the humanities and fine arts–no matter what career they plan on pursuing or what they plan on studying in college.

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Categories: Op-Ed, Opinion

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