Giving students the power of independent thought
Perhaps the most frustrating challenge for the English teacher in a high school classroom lies in the great difficulty students have in finding ideas to write about — at least that’s what they frequently say.
Learning to be observant is a tricky discipline the writer needs to master and practise on a daily basis, partly because ideas are all around us and if we do not train ourselves to see them, they will pass us by, and also because we need to get into the habit of recognising what is an idea, and what is not.
The Creative Writing Masterclass PD introduces a number of techniques for preparing the ground, sowing the seeds and harvesting ideas for writing.
Not surprisingly, most idea generation methods require a combination of the senses — reading, listening, watching, feeling, tasting (or responding to taste), and of course sniffing things out. But — and it is a big but! — the capture must be recorded, therefore writing itself is the essence of idea capture.
World renowned lyrics teacher, Pat Pattison, makes a point of saying that all writing contributes to the final choice, none is wasted, just as all manure goes into the final fruit.
In the classroom, this means encouraging students to forego concepts of perfection and accept small gains as big achievements. It is imperative that a writing classroom is a safe place for students to experiment with their self-consciousness, and develop courage in what they think.
And it’s equally important to turn that back on itself and encourage students to think that what makes them feel unsure is probably great work at work. Isaac Asimov said that making a cross-connection requires a certain daring — it begins with things seeming unreasonable and then working toward answering the question of why it will work in the end.