The Creative Teacher
Round table discussion
What a fun conversation this was! There were 13 participants–– a mixture of faculty, creative writing instructors and students, and EWP/ IWP instructors. Such as collective was bound to reap abundant discussions! The guiding questions for this talk centered around how we bring in our creative side to our composition classrooms. Many of us in the English department, and as writers in general, have a creative mindset and way of looking and understanding the world. It’s difficult to be in a field that can sometimes be rigid and regiment in its studies (ew, grammar). We want to feel free in our teaching and learning to branch out into different genres, modalities, structures, and so on. We aren’t just writing expository essays. With that, we ask participants to share how they navigate this terrain.
Many of us indicated the need to break out of regiments composition because of the need to diversify learning. A divide between critical studies and creative studies is a false one because sometimes thinking outside of order is necessary to arrive at and engage with radically new work. Introducing creativity allows students to experiment with their ideas and allows them to bring their whole selves to the table. There’s no need to cut off pieces of themselves to fit the mold if the mold container is flexible and malleable. So, we shift our pedagogical practices towards teaching students how to ask appropriate questions and conduct the proper research to create out of the box projects. We find that with these projects students are more in touch with their interests and with other worlds that may have been unfamiliar to them.
We also discussed some assignments to help students build a bridge between creativity and critical projects. We discuss assignments where students are asked to provide a biography for an object or for a space that they’re in. Assignments where they can use alternative mediums, modes, or genres to make their arguments–– like photo-essay, collage, podcasts, or paintings, to name but a few. We also discussed the possibilities of creative writing assignments in an expository classroom, like short stories, comedy essays, and poetry.
In short, we had an engaging conversation about why it’s important for students to feel encouraged to experiment and to be more creative and open in composition classrooms. And we crowdsourced information, activities, and assignments to can help us achieve more creativity in our own teaching practices.