Thursday, July 19, 2012

Link Review: A.D. Jameson's Teaching Creative Writing

This link review covers an extremely level-headed perspective on teaching creative writing while adding one significant detail that could further this link's useful breakdown analysis a touch beyond its already wonderful quality of discussion.

The Link:

Why This Link Was Featured:
Because Jameson makes a straightforward explanation of how creative writing can be taught.

His broken down pedagogical areas do well at demystifying creative writing as a process and as a field. His emphasis on discipline is down-to-earth in conveying that writing is work as much as it is play. His attitude is supportive of students and liberating for instructors. I don’t know about you, but “What creative writing programs should offer is access to a wide and varied body of knowledge, as well as the time and space to study, experiment, and practice.” relieved so much stress from my green teacher shoulders that I put it on a Post-It note so I could read it every day.

Jameson is fair in putting appropriate responsibilities on instructors and their students. Students are responsible for how much they want to get out of a class. Teachers are responsible for providing the space, support, and guiding knowledge that directs students towards various methods of creating writing. Even under the heading “It’s Perfectly OK for Student Writers to Suck Horribly”, there’s still the conviction that anyone can improve their writing through relevant lessons and practice. As Jameson convincingly shows in this post, creative writing isn’t just for some gifted few, but for anyone with an interest and dedication to learn.


The Grains of Salt:
There isn’t much attention given to teaching the content side of creative writing. True, teachers can’t make students care, but teachers can guide students towards discovering what topics and ideas draw personal investment into their creative work. For instance, asking students a list of ten things that really piss them off will evoke emotional investment in a social topic that students can use to fuel their writing. As important as craft and process are, it’s equally important to investigate the subject matter that the process and craft are applied to.


Overall:
This post on teaching creative writing stands up, makes it point, and could probably use the space for an encore. I’d love to hear more about these five pedagogical areas if A.D. Jameson ever decided to write further on them. It would be nice to see content included with craft, but the fact that Jameson recognizes writing processes as malleable and about knowing various techniques to use as the time calls for them puts him miles ahead of straight workshop or rigid process pedagogies.



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