Posted in Learning, Writing

Writing challenge (Day Five)

Since when has there been seven days in a week? I ask rather indignantly.

Tim just looks at me in that way he does: head on one side, hands by his side, eyes saying can you hear yourself?

Apparently, according to Tim, there are seven days in a week, not five. I thought today was the last day, the final day of my writing challenge … but no. As a week is seven days in length, your writing challenge will continue for another two days.  But I cannot guarantee that there won’t be another challenge when this one is done.

The man has a warped sense of reality.

That’s my conclusion.

I’ve drawn other conclusions over the years: he is a gifted teacher; a beard suits him; his photography should be shared; he’s the right husband for me.

Conclusions are what we do when we wrap things up: people, arguments, criminal cases, university assignments. We look at the evidence and come to a conclusion. 

I have jumped from a few things over the years including:

Cudgen Creek Bridge, Kingscliff NSW
Natural Arch (or Natural Bridge), Qld

and my conclusion is that you should keep your arms firmly by your sides as you hit the water!

My other conclusion is that, unlike the water under the bridges, conclusions are not things to be jumped to.

I also had a learning the last time I jumped through the hole at Natural Arch/Bridge: the older you are, the longer the drop feels. I was in my 30s the last time I jumped and it’s going to remain the last jump. They don’t let you jump anymore though – there’s a fence there to stop people doing it. Dad and I didn’t see the fence as we climbed through it all those years ago. Mum was cross, but then mums often are.

We need conclusions in our writing and in our teaching. When students are tasked with writing an essay, they must write a conclusion. When we teach a lesson/tutorial we need a conclusion. When we give a lecture we must conclude.

Psychologist Robert Sternberg concludes that if a teacher only teaches in one way, then they conclude that the kids who can’t learn well that way don’t have the ability, when, in fact, it may be that the way the teacher is teaching is not a particularly good match to the way those kids learn.

I wonder how many teachers would agree with that conclusion? It means that the teacher cannot blame the student for not learning, but must reflect on their own teaching practices to see if they need to make any changes. I wonder if it’s the same for those of us who teach in universities?


In Life of Pi Yann Martel makes the point that it is important to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.

That kind of conclusion is not quite the same as writing a conclusion to a journal article, or a chapter, or an essay. But it is still important to not leave things unsaid, or there might be remorse when the assignment/chapter is returned: if only I’d taken a bit more time. Sometimes the best thing to do is to put your writing away for a few days and then come back to it with a fresh mind and fresh eyes.

Tim wrote the conclusion to our chapter yesterday. I’m going to put it away for a few days so that I approach it with fresh eyes and a fresh mind (can you hear Tim saying but you didn’t write it?). Still, my eyes need to be fresh.

Actually, that’s not the real reason.

The sun is shining. My conclusion: it’s a great day for a bushwalk!


Tomorrow, finding your voice. Where did it go?