I remember when I first heard the opposite expression: Those who can’t, teach. It was said by a grumpy filmmaker who wasn’t getting the work they thought they deserved and teaching what they knew to others was somehow less than doing their precious work.
Nothing could be further than the truth.
Teaching keeps my craft tools sharp. Teaching interrupts the isolation of writing. Teaching is building community. Best of all, teaching is about nurturing the creative spirit.
I was invited to join the adjunct faculty at Austin Community College’ Humanities Department in Spring 2019, specifically to teach Beginning Creative Writing: Introduction to Children’s Literature, a course which had been ably helmed by my friend Liz Garton Scanlon. The following year, Brian Yansky retired and I was asked to teach his Introduction to Young Adult Fiction.
Each class, each semester is a new adventure. Yes, we cover the principles of creative writing (Point of View, Setting, Character Development) but the journey of writing for each student, tapping into their unique creativity is very individual. It is my intention with each course and with each class to nurture that spirit in each student.
In other words, I don’t teach by rote.
The craft book we use for the semester is Marion Dane Bauer’s What’s Your Story, an excellent clear book on craft. Students must also read ten picture books, one middle grade and three easy readers. Through reading, class assignments, writing exercises, students will create a portfolio of their own work by semester’s end. This semester, I am going to incorporate the thinking of Felicia Rose Chavez and Matthew Salesses in an effort to create a classroom where each person’s creativity can flourish.
The two hour and thirty minute class starts Tuesday Jan 18 @6pm and runs for sixteen weeks until May 10. Register here: