Creative Writing Should be Taught in High School

Course boosts critical thinking skills and originality

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Destiny A. Milliser, Art Editor

Writing on standardized testing.  Writing essays in English class.  Most students cringe at the thought and few would admit that they actually like writing in school. However, research suggests that creative writing in which students use their imagination and express their original thoughts freely actually improves their critical thinking skills.

Author, Latifa Ayad. Photo courtesy of Ayad.

“While self-expression is one benefit we might automatically look to from creative writing, many don’t realize just how beneficial creative writing can be to improving a student’s writing overall,” said Latifa Ayad, a 29-year-old published author in Columbus, Ohio.

“In my freshmen college composition course, I always taught a short story section. I always had students who had previously come to the course with trepidation about writing, especially those who had had negative experiences in their high school English classes.” 

  Ayad explained that often students will get a mental block about writing something as daunting as a research paper or a college admissions essay but when given the opportunity to write something they are passionate about, will flourish.

 “Building competency as a writer in a creative setting builds confidence. The skills transfer—being able to make a point without extra fluff, being able to describe something with clarity, even being able to write to a particular form like a sonnet, all will contribute to a student’s ability to write well in academic context,” said Ayad.

LHS teacher, Ms. Blair. Photo courtesy of LHS website.

Ms. Blair, a Lancaster High School English teacher, agreed that creative writing in an academic environment is very beneficial to high school students.

 “Creative writing lets students play around with and become more comfortable with language. Choosing good words and putting them together effectively is important no matter what kind of writing we do. Reading what other people have written, be it creative or academic, is also a huge help in academic writing,” said Blair.

 McDaniel, an LHS sophomore, said she would definitely take advantage of a creative writing course if it were offered as part of the English curriculum.

LHS sophomore, Isabell McDaniel. Photo courtesy of McDaniel.

“I think adding creative writing to our high school’s curriculum is a great idea. It would give kids who are too afraid to speak in class a chance to really express themselves through written words rather than vocalizing their thoughts. And it could open up our still-developing minds to new ideas and a whole new world of expression,” she said.

Creative Communications recently announced that they would publish a poem written by LHS freshman, Samuel Canter.

“I think creative writing, at its core, is a really therapeutic method for people to figure out their feelings and untangle everything messy going on in their mind. It’s always been a sort of therapy for me, to write and read these things I feel like I can only really find through writing,” said Canter.

“Writing doesn’t need to be objectively good in order to be powerful, it just is. Creative writing is one of the simplest ways people connect to each other and, most importantly, to themselves. I think there’s something really beautiful about that.” 

LHS sophomore, Samuel Canter. Photo courtesy of Canter.

Laura Bean, the author of the article, How Creative Writing Can Increase Students’ Resilience, suggests that teachers provide opportunities for students to journal or blog to build communication and coping skills.

“To help traumatized students overcome their personal and academic challenges, one of our first jobs as teachers is to build a sense of community. We need to communicate that we care and that we welcome them into the classroom just as they are. One of the best ways I’ve found to connect with my students, while also nurturing their reading and writing skills, is through creative writing.”

By offering creative writing courses in high school, students may learn to appreciate and enjoy writing in the future.  Ayad who writes a lot of flash fiction has published a number of short stories and has won several prizes for her work.  

“My writing is all “literary fiction” which is to say it’s all very character and language-focused, but I love to blend genre elements into my work. The novel I’m working on, The Realm Unknown, has very strong horror elements, but is at its heart a story about a young Muslim girl dealing with the clash of two cultures in post 9/11 America,” she said.

Ayad had this advice for high school students who want to pursue a career in writing.

“Write the book you want to read. You’ve got a story, or a poem, brewing in there that no one else can tell, that doesn’t exist yet because it’s still germinating in you.”

To read a few of Samuel Canter’s poems, click on the link: