Monday, June 14, 2010

A Lifetime in Six Words? Possible.

Unlocking the innate creativity within people is not always as difficult as you think. One intriguing example is the idea of the six word story, where the author must fit a complete story within a mere six words. The idea, which supposedly originated with Ernest Hemingway, lives on in the form of a Twitter meme and a recent book entitled Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure.

The latter is fascinating because each writer attempts to capture an entire lifetime in less words than the book's own title. What surprised me is the amount of memoirs that relate to learning or education. It gave me a lot to think about, and I think you'll agree. Here's a sampling:
Grading AP essays, I crave Tolstoy. -Carinna Tarvin

Learned reading, writing, forgot arithmetic. -Elizabeth Rose Gruner

Timid teacher takes 'tude from tykes. -Kathy Gates

Students laughed appreciatively. The professor relaxed. -Laurie Hensley

I colored outside of the lines. -Jacob Thomas

All of my students hate me. -Sharon Fishfeld

Educated too much, lived too little. -Dan Vance

My second grade teacher was right. -Janelle Brown

Learned. Forgot. Better off relearning anyway. -Brian DeLeeuw

High school dropout but college graduate. -Mary Beth Nalin

Used to add. Now I subtract. -Melissa Gorelick
I can't recommend the book enough. In a way, it's sort of a purely literary PostSecret. I'd love to hear from teachers who used this as a class project. Actually, I'd love to read your own six word memoir. Share both in the comments.


Ms. Cookie said...

Thank you for this post. You compelled me to go out and buy the book. I LOVE it.

Ms. Cookie

alyssa said...


This is Alyssa from SMITH Mag, the creators of the Six-Word Memoir project. Thanks for the mention!

We've had more than 250,000 people submit Six-Word Memoirs at and, and we'd love it if you and your community joined us over at SMITH. You could submit your teacherly memoirs.

Bonus: your six words could be in a future book; we've done five books of Six-Word Memoirs so far.

-Alyssa, SMITH intern

Mr. D said...

Alyssa, thanks for the suggestion! Perhaps if enough of us go there, the next Six-Word Memoirs anthology can be about education. (I can dream, can't I?)

jugglingpaynes said...

Your excellent post inspired my kids!

Mr. D said...

jugglingpaynes: I'd love to read what they created! If you post it on your blog, please send a link.

Mr. D said...

In Scholastic's blogs section, they just posted a similar lesson based on this idea: Start the Year With Super-Easy, Tech-Savvy, Six-Word Memoirs.