I told my children to make up a fictional persona to write about, and that I would back them up completely if they were ever questioned or criticized about it. The poor child who shares honestly, who doesn't realize or isn't capable of putting on a front, will be teased mercilessly (speaking as having been that child). For others, it's license and endorsement for fake honesty.
The link to Jessica Lahey's piece about making her middle school students squirm by writing about something personal appears to have been removed. I doubt that Ms Lahey has changed her mind about the value of the assignment, but probably just got tired of hearing negative comments.
Katharine Beals, PhD, is the author of "Raising a Left-Brain Child in a Right-Brain World: Strategies for Helping Bright, Quirky, Socially Awkward Children to Thrive at Home and at School" (Shambhala/Trumpeter)
Katharine is an educator and the mother of three left-brain children. She has taught math, computer science, social studies, expository writing, linguistics, and English as a second language to students of all ages, both in the U.S. and overseas. She is also the architect of the GrammarTrainer, a linguistic software program for language impaired children.
She is currently a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and an adjunct professor at the Drexel University School of Education.
This site uses left-brain and right-brainnot as physiological terms for the actual left and right hemispheres of the brain, but as they are employed in the everyday vernacular. They appear here in the same spirit in which people use type A and type B (themselves the relics of a debunked theory about blood type and character type): an informal shorthand for certain bundles of personality traits.