Learning To Swim

7/24/2008 03:00:00 pm

Several months ago Melissa Hartman asked me if I'd write an article about social networking in the lives of teenagers for Imagine Magazine. It's a non-profit out of Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth; she's the editor.

I learned a lot about writing and working with an editor. It turned into more of an article about digital ethics than social networking. When I started I thought: 650 words! How am I going to write that much? Over 2000 words later (about three articles worth) I thought: 650 words! How am I ever going to get it down to so few? In the end I submitted about 750 words and the editing process began. I learned how to balance style, content, and story. I learned how to edit myself ruthlessly. I learned how it feels when someone else edits me ruthlessly. And I learned how easy it is to find a happy medium when you're working with a good editor.

This is the article that made it into print, the May/June 2008 issue titled Art Now (one of the two buttons in the top right corner of the window below will allow you to enlarge the image to make it easier to read):

Read this document on Scribd: Darren Kuropatwa: Learning To Swim

What do you think? Would this appeal to your average middle school student? (12 to 14 years old)

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  1. You have a nice, light touch with this article. It comes off as a nice analogy, not a lecture. I think it will reach your intended audience.

    Thanks for sharing it on your blog. It gives me ideas of how to better write so my students will receive my message.

  2. Anonymous2/8/08 14:20

    Thanks Susan, that's what I was going for. Melissa helped a lot. ;-)

  3. Darren, I enjoyed the article very much. It seems the swimming metaphor is a popular one - I co-presented with Peter Simmonds here in Adelaide on the topic of student blogging and he used the phrase "Swimming Between The Flags" in a very similar way. I certainly can use this article as part of our Child Protection Curriculum this term - there you have it, you've just become part of the South Australian curriculum!
    I'm sure that working with an editor can only sharpen your writing skills - certainly, I could do with an editor sometimes in my blog posts!

  4. Anonymous5/8/08 16:36

    I use an extended "learning how to swim, I am the life guard story" with my parents and they love the example. Great article!

  5. Anonymous18/9/08 15:15

    The light, almost humerous, tone in your writing really kept me interested. This has an less of an air of a warning lecture, and more of an interesting article with an underlying truth to it. This actually has a great effect because it isn't a teacher scolding/warning a student...it's a lightly spoken article makeing a subtle point with a great message.

    This metaphor is great one as well. We've all heard it, but the way you used it was a little different and possibly more effective. In its entirety it was really a great and effective article.

    Thank you for sharing it!

  6. Graham: I've learned a lot from you and my other Aussie colleagues, glad I could contribute something useful. ;-)

    It strikes me that this underscores one of the benefits of "learning to swim": serendipity. The article was published in the magazine but I think it may have got a more diverse audience posted here to my blog. You pick it up and can use it in your curriculum ... an entirely unanticipated benefit. Hmm ... I feel another article coming on. ;-)

    Paul: Thanks! That's a great way to extend the metaphor.

    s.rhodes: Thanks for taking the time to give such high praise and specific feedback. Very much appreciated.

  7. Hi! :)
    I am a middle school student myself, & I really like your article & the tone of voice you used. It's interesting, and I like how you used the example as a warning. :D