Six In Schools Easily Proves the Role of Teacher in Developing Writing Skills

English teacher at Olentangy High School, Erin Centa, stumbled upon Six-Word Memoirs six years ago as she looked for a way for teaching writing skills required for personal narratives to her senior high school students. “I searched for interesting ways to introduce storytelling and SMITH magazine popped up. I loved the idea and have been using it ever since.”

Erin uses Six-Word Memoirs to get her students to think about their personal story in a creative way but also as an answer to how to develop writing skills in students. She’s found that “kids are kind of ready to pour their hearts out.” In addition to being a strategy to develop writing skills, Erin uses Six-Word Memoirs to “springboard them into thinking about who they are.” These memoirs aren’t limited to pencil and paper in her classroom. She encourages her students to pick a meaningful object on which to write their stories — whether that be a soccer ball, a model car, or an old running shoe.

Erin started using the format to fulfill her role of teacher in developing writing skills, but the format has since become personal for Erin: “It has been kind of therapeutic to me,” she explains. “I dealt with the loss of a child a little over three years ago, so the Hemingway story really resonated with me after that. Six-Word Memoirs helped me get my feelings out while dealing with that loss.” Erin is referring to the legendary six word novel that Hemingway infamously penned, and was the inspiration for the Six-Word Memoir Project: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

“Don’t say much, think too much.”
“Just want to see the world.”
“No, I do not speak Indian.”

Recently, Larry Smith, founder of the Six-Word Memoir project, traveled to Olentangy High to help show students what Six-Words is all about. The seniors shuffled into the spacious auditorium and skeptically avoided the front row. Moments later, armed with sharpies and paper, they shed their hesitance — ready to tackle their personal narratives in just six words.

This short-form writing objective example is particularly timely for seniors, many of whom are tackling the process of writing college essays: “They think they have to have some huge life-altering event to be interesting; Six-Word Memoirs helps them see that the little things are interesting.”

Although her students’ time at Olentangy High School is wrapping up, their personal explorations are just beginning. We’re grateful that Erin has been introducing the benefits of Six-Word Memoirs to her high school seniors for years, building a strong foundation for the next generation’s creative minds.