‘Love letters’ project gets boys writing

2009-11-07 00:00

NOTHING can get boys writing better than to write for girls, and a grade 9 letter-writing project at Maritzburg College has proved this.

The boys had to write detailed yet friendly letters of introduction to girls from local schools they had never met. These girls were identified for them by their teachers.

The project is part of an International Boys’ School Coalition (IBSC) research project to encourage boys to write more and better.

Sadly for the 230 boys, they cannot expect any digits in the replies because the brief strictly prohibits them from asking for tele­phone numbers.

Debbie Martin, the grade 9 teacher who initiated the project, says this has been an exercise where enjoyment took over the anxiety of writing for marks.

It was Martin’s passion for teaching writing that led to the head of academics encouraging her to apply to be part of the research project run by IBSC.

Having been accepted, she has since attended a IBSC conference in Hastings, New Zealand.

“Our research question is, how can we encourage boys to become more confident, powerful and prolific writers?” asks Martin.

They will meet again in Philadelphia next year to collate their research, which will then be published by IBSC.

The enthusiasm was still evident when Weekend Witness visited the boys, some of whom had just received their replies from Epworth School.

Boys Weekend Witness spoke to admitted that, outside of class, they have never written a letter before, nor seen any need for it.

Sam Bull (15) said the experience was out of the ordinary.

Daniel de Bruin (15) said the project was made sweeter because they were writing to girls, while Tshepo Bhengu (15) found it easy to express himself to someone he didn’t know.

Epworth girls were just as excited. Lourdes Llobell (14) said her school buzzed when the letters arrived. She even feels letter writing is better than MXit or other networking sites.

The girls admitted that the letters they received are generally about sport, but they found them interesting nevertheless.

The boys were marked on tone, content, format and general impression. But for the final product, their peers and their teachers offered advice.

If the Epworth girls were to mark the boys down on something, Monica Beghin (15) said, it would be over the issue that some letters weren’t totally authentic.

“If you don’t usually use big words when you talk, don’t try sound intelligent in a letter. Just be yourself.”



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