Academic Lens: The Power of Writing

Posted by Scott Allenby


One of the aspects of my job I am most thankful for is the excuse to write regularly. I fear I would lose my sense of why I do what I do without a creative outlet that involves writing. While we at Proctor Academy think everyone should read this article, this post is a plea to those directly connected to the Proctor community to take to heart the advice below.

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Jordan Peterson works in the psychology department at the University of Toronto and for decades has conducted research on the effects of writing on organizing thoughts and emotions. Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?

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While Peterson acknowledges these can be heavy issues for students to write about, he believes writing about these issues can increase productivity and even reduce depression and visits to the doctor. Through written reflection, he has consistently found students gain insight into their own lives that help locate, ground, and ultimately resolve the emotional and associated stress that hinders performance. “The act of writing is more powerful than people think.”

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Much current academic research focuses on mental motivation of high school students - including faculty professional development summer reading “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. The notion of a growth mindset is critical to students understanding their academic performance is not predetermined by past success or failure, but has much to do with effort and a desire for growth. This is what makes Proctor’s educational model so powerful; students are encouraged, supported, and challenged to expand the scope of their potential.

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The key, however, is engaging with yourself on a personal level by asking the questions Peterson asks above. In order for each of us to continue to grow in our respective roles (teachers, parents, students) we must set goals for ourselves (not just for our students) and strive to meet those goals by writing about them.

Are you willing to embrace this writing assignment that could change your life? Spending time writing this summer may be more important than you thought! 

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