Or that’s what Ray Bradbury says anyway.
I’ve never really liked science fiction. That is until I read Fahrenheit 451. I had this misconceived that scientific wasn’t realistic, and I’m more of a non fiction type of girl. When I read Fahrenheit 451, I realized that science fiction, or at least the way that Bradbury writes it, is realistic, just not in the present. In his interview, Bradbury talks a lot about how his books are looking into the future, and what could actually happen if we aren’t careful. He says, “Science fiction pretends to look into the future, but it’s really looking at a reflection of what’s really in front of us.” He redefined science fiction and it’s importance for me.
So how did Bradbury become so wise? Not college. Bradbury actively advocated that going to college is stupid. He came to this conclusion because he believes that teachers have prejudices and proport to having more knowledge than students– something he finds unacceptable. These statements have big implications for us, as we are currently studying writing in college. I don’t know if Bradbury is right, but his ideas got me thinking. Thinking about all the writing classes I’ve taken thus far and the different ways my teachers have taught and commented on my writing. Often times teachers comment on rough drafts with things they would like fixed, and if you fix them you get a good grade. If you don’t, well, then it is likely you receive a bad grade. This seems problematic to me, because although my teachers might be more experienced writers than me, should they be allowed to force me to change my writing in order to receive a better grade?
When I first read the statement “You can’t learn to write in college”, I thought it was kind of silly. My writing has seemed to improve in college, and I have learned a lot of things pertaining to how to be a good writer. But, even that begs the question, who decides what makes a good writer, or even a good piece of writing? As I thought more and more about that, Bradbury’s point seemed to start to be more and more plausible. Bradbury also says “you can’t write for other people”, something you actively have to do if you’re learning how to write in college. It made me question academia, because every time I write in college, I am writing for a grade. I am altering my writing for the particular class and teacher.
I can give an example. I had a teacher who hates writing that involves suspense; he thinks it frustrates the reader. I love both writing with suspense and reading suspenseful pieces. It keeps me on the edge of my seat. But, for his class I wouldn’t dare write a piece with suspense, since I knew it would likely receive a poor grade.
Bradbury is against formal education in general, because he taught himself everything by frequenting the library. Maybe he is right to dislike formal education. It’s probably something I will wonder for the rest of my life. I don’t think I’ll ever know for sure whether the way formal education is structured is something that is conducive to learning and, more specifically, becoming a better writer.