From the Mailbag: I Hate IEW!

Jun 05, 2019 | Posted by the IEW Blog Team


It’s always a treat to receive letters from IEW teachers and students. This elementary student had her own thoughts about the way she was being taught and decided to let Andrew Pudewa know about them. We are so glad she did! It’s true, not every student will find writing to be their favorite subject. Some may even dislike it, but as Andrew Pudewa reminds us, you don’t have to like it to find that IEW will develop your writing skills and strengthen your thinking muscle. We have removed her name to preserve her anonymity, but we hope you enjoy her passionate letter and Andrew’s encouraging response.


A letter to IEW: I HATE your curriculum. Not even joking. Or maybe it’s just my bad teacher who doesn’t know a thing about it. I don’t know. But all this stuff is confusing. Why are you doing these “creative writing essays” if you don’t even let us do creative writing? Telling someone about my favorite book and why, I could do on a street if someone asked me. It’s not creative writing. Creative writing is when I make up a book about some cool person who went on some wild adventure! Not telling you what my favorite book is and why. I’ll tell you what. My essays are looking pretty bad. And you know what’s making my essays look so bad? All the dumb -ly’s, quality adjectives, and who/which clauses I HAVE to add in! I can use this stuff to make my essays better, but you shouldn’t have to FORCE me to use this stuff! It simply isn’t right! What is the “excellence” I am supposed to have? I sure don’t see any. On my last essay I got a C. Not a B or a B-, a C. Where is the excellence in that? NONE! I don’t care if I win your stupid contest for a $100 or $50, or $25. I wouldn’t win anyways. Not with a C in this class. Oh yeah, another thing. Us kids in ELEMENTARY school had to write a long essay with an introduction and conclusion and 3 body paragraphs. You say that’s for high schoolers. You need to make that clear because all us ELEMENTARY kids had to do HIGH SCHOOL work! One thing’s for sure! Your curriculum sure needs a TON of work! I looked at your website and it says it really helps. Well, guess what. It DOESN’T!!! That is all. This is from _________________, a fellow homeschooler who HATES your curriculum. Bye for now.


Andrew’s response follows:


April 24, 2019

Dear _________,

Thank you for your letter. I was delighted to hear how much you hate the IEW writing curriculum! If I were in elementary school, I might hate it as well, so I understand your sentiment.

Although I hope your teacher is not actually as bad as you suggest, I do wish that you could have been in one of my classes because I think you might have had a better experience. One difference is that in my class, students can only get an “A” (for accepted) or an “I” (for incomplete). Never a B or C. Not even an A-. I would help you enough so that you could get an “A” on every assignment. However, teachers differ, and that’s just something students have to get used to.

But let me explain why we do what we do by making a comparison. Do you happen to play a sport or practice a musical instrument? Developing skill in sports or arts requires exercises and training—which is often tedious or even painful. If you want to be a good musician, you must be willing to practice scales and etudes, or even play the same two measures of a piece twenty times a day for a week. If you want to be good at soccer, you have to do wind sprints and dribble drills, maybe even sit-ups or crunches.

Of course, we don’t practice scales and drills so we can perform those things; we practice them so we will become stronger and more competent. Then when we play in a recital or an important game, we will be the best we can be. Writing is very similar. We practice with the checklist and follow the models not because it’s fun or even because it always makes a better composition; we do it to become better writers.

A student who just fools around at the piano for half an hour a day will learn to play something, but she will never become as skilled as a student who follows the plan that a good teacher provides. Likewise, a basketball player who just shoots baskets for fun every day will never be as successful as one who follows her coach’s direction. Similarly, a student who just writes whatever she wants all the time may improve a little, but not as much as one who tries to develop skills in a systematic way. I am certain that if you choose to continue practicing the writing models and style techniques, gradually they will become easier and more natural, and you will become a better writer. Also, I should point out that you can learn even from bad teachers, if you choose to do so (though sometimes it’s very hard).

I appreciate your candid and bold communication style; it will serve you well your whole life. If you can combine that with discipline and concentration, you will go far. Hopefully you will not have to be in another class with a teacher you dislike, but if destiny requires it, I encourage you to do your best and try to learn what you can.

You live in_________. I will actually be in your area for a convention later this year. I don’t know if your family will attend that convention, but if you do, I would love to buy you a frappuccino or an ice cream, learn more about you, and discuss ways we might make our writing program less painful. Just let me know if you are there. If you are not able to attend the convention, please feel free to contact me anytime.


Blessings to you and yours,


Andrew Pudewa
Institute for Excellence in Writing



It’s true. Not every student will be enthused about writing, but hopefully they will discover how valuable a skill writing is. And some teachers need to better develop their teaching skills to individualize instruction to reflect an EZ+1 approach. If you have a reluctant student, perhaps you can share Andrew’s letter with him. Maybe that bit of encouragement will help your student see that the pathway has a definite direction, one that will help him become a competent communicator in academics and in life.

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