She told me about how they punish middle school kids. I had the strange feeling that I’d heard all of this before. It was a variation on Simpson-variety writing a phrase on the blackboard 150 times. Give them a writing assignment. Use writing as a way to punish and a way to teach. Of course, what it teaches is that writing is a punishment and a chore and signal that grown ups are unhappy with something you’ve done.
So write something, get your paper marked with red ink, says the teacher. Don’t expect me to have to wade through the content of your unhappy thoughts. (And, jeez, you make everything sound so dull.) But as the teacher, I won’t criticize, and I can’t encourage or I’d have to encourage all of you. So just write because it is your punishment and someday, you will never have to write again.