On Not Over Thinking

I vividly recall asking students to begin a session by writing, stream of consciousness style, for ten minutes. Generally I would provide a seed to kick start the writing but there was never a specific outcome intended. The object was simply to go within and get words down on a page.

Invariably I would observe one student gazing out the window, not writing and I would ask why they were not moving a pen across the page.

“I am thinking Miss!’ was the classic response.

“Don’t think!” I would say! “Thinking is dangerous! Just write!” I would add!

Needless to say I was delighted to find a summary of this book and to read Guy Clayton’s views.

In a class room setting it was hard to justify “no activity, no reasoning, no calculating, no busy behavior of any kind, no reading, no talking, no making effort,” but in some way, writing like this enabled students to engage in what was a gentle process of gestation.

Over the course of a year our notebooks were filled with words written simply for the sake of writing down words. It didn’t matter if an essay ever came from them. It was enough to simply write and then share some of our random thoughts.