Learning to Write in Community

By Joey Gissendaner, Class of 2014

It has been one of the paramount goals of Westminster to equip its students with eloquence for the glory of God and the advancement of His kingdom. From the first class one takes to the last, students learn the importance of the relationship between thought and word. Though this relationship is stressed in every class and in every subject, it can be seen most clearly in the way Westminster teaches its students to write. In the seventh and eighth grades, students begin to write essays and short stories under the auspices of Mr. Wortman, the middle school grammar teacher. His class is geared to help students learn how to form educated opinions about a text and create a argument on a given topic.

However, the most unique part about the writing process taught at Westminster is the importance of peer review. Once a student has written his rough draft of an essay or short story, he submits it to his friends and classmates for scrutiny and revision. Though this process may sound unpleasant, it is crucial to the integrity and quality of one’s work. Each reader will view the piece in a different way and potentially notice different errors or different strong points. The more readers one presents his work to, the stronger and more sound the piece will be. Each peer review time is an opportunity for one to show Christian love for his classmates through his comments. And this is the way each peer review must approached, in Christian love for the author and respect for his work.

Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” This is truly the reason for peer review. It is not only to improve one’s writing, but also one’s character. Through the refining fire of criticism, we hone one another’s individual talents and abilities. We learn to accept the fact that we are not perfect, but we may improve together. Westminster allows its students to practice what they are taught in their Bible classes and in church, namely that we must show grace and help each other along the path to improvement. Peer review is not just a part of the writing process, it is a way of improving one’s relationship with both God and man.

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