May 9, 2014
The English Department: Implementing Creative Writing Courses into the Lower-Level Educational Institutions
The English Department is designed to offer students a variety of courses within every area of the English major. It includes concentrations in many fields of English-rhetoric and composition, ethnic literature, critical theory, and, but not stopping at, creative writing. Each field that the English Departments offer are designed to improve analytical skills, critical thinking skills, reading comprehension, writing techniques, and etc. unfortunately, the field of creative writing is often overlooked and frowned upon when it comes to improving the necessary skills for students to use outside the academic world. This paper is designed to explore the benefits of implementing and maintaining creative writing courses in all school systems, but more specifically, junior high and high schools. It will also explore the different modes of teaching creative writing courses and the effects upon students enrolled in the creative writing programs.
The earliest occurrence of creative writing courses emerged from a Harvard composition class as an “educational experiment” (Haake, 160). The purpose of the experiment was primarily used to “restore literary and education value to the teaching of rhetoric” (160). It was not until Norman Foerster, a former Harvard student and found of the University of Iowa’s Writer Workshop, “institutionalized the study of writing as a separate enterprise” (160). Foerster was able to combine the study of literature with the practice of literature. For many years, the model of his program was the center focus for creative writing, which flourished across all English departments in the Universities. Many of the participants in the creative writing programs were veterans’ returning from duty, which was mostly “funded by the G.I. Bill” (Haake, 160). As time passed, even after the Second World War, creative writing classes spanned across all English departments, recruiting newer and newer writers. Even writers during the time were quitting their jobs, like journalism, in order to teach the creative writing courses.
The objective of the creative writing courses was not designed to provide students with a “venue in which they could produce their own literary texts” (158). The courses were instead designed to provide students with a “fuller and deeper understanding of literature by approaching it from the inside” (158). Unfortunately, that is not exactly how the courses appealed the future writers. Many students, even in the present day, enroll in creative writing classes to fulfill their dreams of writing a best-selling novel, short story, poem, or other forms through creativity. This is partly because of the way the courses are “packaged” for the students. The students recognize that a teacher is a published writer, mostly, and enroll into a creative writing class in order to learn and produce a piece of literature that will be sitting on the top shelf of a bookstand at the front door of a Barnes & Noble.
Hopefully in the present time, most creative writing programs and teachers are not presenting students with the belief that they will produce a best-selling piece of literature. It seems as though the idea that you cannot teach creativity is beginning to be understood. Many peers suggest that creativity is something that you are born with. You either have the talent or you do not. What can be taught though, are the tools to access the creativity and develop as a successful writer in other areas through the creative writing programs.
Teachers should have the approach of teaching students the tools to access their creativity while developing their critical and analytical skills. As Steven Bauer posits in his scholarly journal, “the whole world needs to stop valuing product over process” (Bauer, 293). We live in a time now that focuses...
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