Teaching the kids to write*

As part of my Graduate School Experience, I'm supposed to teach undergrads how to write. I'm not sure I know exactly how to do this, but I'm willing to take a stab at it. Perhaps there will be a few students in the class who have some real talent, and who will decide that writing is something they really want to pursue, beyond this class. But I'm trying to be realistic about it. And the more realistic goal, I think, is to expose these students to writers they probably haven't read before, and, because these students will be trying to do something difficult (write a good story, or poem, or piece of creative nonfiction) perhaps they'll grow a new respect for the people who do that difficult something particularly well. Or, maybe they'll just sneer at me and throw things. Who knows?

On the first day of class, when I asked them to tell me something they'd read recently that they particularly enjoyed, several students mentioned Nicholas Sparks. Enough of them that the finding seems to be statistically significant. I've never read any of Mr. Sparks' work, so I'm not one to judge what this means. Frankly, I'm just glad most of them have taken some enjoyment in reading. College tends to do a good job of stripping the fun out of reading. Partly this is because college English professors have strange ideas about what's worthwhile to read. Partly this is because talking about Theme and Symbolism and Historical Context can turn even the best novel into something more closely resembling a math problem.

When I was an undergraduate and took creative writing classes, I remember that each semester there would be two or three students who proudly declared on the first day of class that they didn't read. Which I always thought was odd. Why would a non-reader want to take a writing class? Then again, I've since had two students who are engineering majors but hate math. So maybe a lot of college students pick majors and classes using some drunken version of pin the tail on the donkey.

At any rate, I'm looking forward to the rest of the semester. My students all seem like really nice people, and eager to learn, which is really all you can ask for.

* According to University rules, I'm not supposed to refer to my students as "kids," as this is apparently offensive. But I figure it's okay on the blog.

1 comment:

TMC said...

just don't call them spanish-surnamed. that one stings.