This week I’m responding to thoughts and comments on my post about Teaching a Creative Writing Class. That’s right — in the fall, I’ll be loosed upon the unsuspecting student population as a teacher. And I wanted my readers to speak up about what they would want in a writing teacher. Many readers had suggestions. Susie said:
As a teacher myself (and granted, I teach the little guys), I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed, especially if you are given a literal whole world of resources to choose from! Decide what your Big Ideas are first, what you want the students to know, and choose your literature around those goals. Then you can bring in a selection of different pieces to illustrate each Big Idea, and you’re not tied into a particular author, time period, or genre. I’m excited for you–best of luck!
Thanks, Susie! This did end being the way I decided to structure my syllabus — rather than moving in a linear way through short stories and their history, I grouped readings around certain things at work in different stories. I have weeks based around voice, plot structure, or dialogue, then I just picked stories that put these things to use in different ways. Hopefully it will keep the kids guessing about what they’re going to read next.
As an avid reader who was left cold by some of the classics I was told to read in school, I would have the students explore more than one genre….I find that art suffers a great deal from narrowly defining what is ‘art’ to a single style or genre. Pop art might not be ‘classic’ but it is art. It takes talent, hard work and skill to create and someone out there thinks it is moving and lovely.
Well put, Felicia! I, too, think universities often force students to slog through the perceived heavyweights of the English canon, with not enough emphasis on contemporary fiction or short stories that are more immediate or moving to contemporary students. I’ve taken care not to include stories just because they’re the thing to read; I’m having students read stories that I loved myself.
After the jump: more suggestions and comments on what a good creative writing teacher needs.