Help Finalize the NJCTE High School Writing Contest Prompt

Editor’s note: The NJ Council of Teachers of English will launch our high school writing contest within the next two weeks. Our writing contest committee is finalizing the prompt. This year we’re exploring the interrelated concepts of illusion and truth. Please join the discussion.

Good afternoon, writing contest friends,

There will be a brainstorming session at Panera Bread on a Thursday or Friday (4-4:30 p.m.) or Saturday (around 11 a.m.) for those interested in promoting the high school writing contest in urban schools. This will take place the 2nd or 3rd week of September.

The rough draft of the prompt below has drawn some comments:

Illusions are false beliefs. In life, as in literature, these false beliefs might be about ways to be happy or successful or about what another person is truly like.  Much of great literature centers on the dangers – or at least the foolishness – of living with illusions.  And yet, Mark Twain, perhaps humorously, states:  Don’t part with your illusions. When they are gone, you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.  Write a personal essay about the discovery of a truth hidden behind an illusion.  This may be about your own illusion or an illusion that someone had about you.  What led to the discovery of truth?  How has this affected your life?

Comments so far:

  1. the word “truth,” has become such a loaded word recently
  2. the idea of fiction getting at deeper emotional truths- stretched truths
  3. the authentic search for truth vs politics
  4. Consider asking students to write one truth and one lie — might prompt some creative interaction in the fiction
  5. How have illusions governed your reality? How has your truth been shaped by illusions? How can one distinguish between truth and lies?

Thank you for your help!

Michele Marotta
Writing Contest Director

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English
Help Finalize the NJCTE High School Writing Contest Prompt

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