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  Weekly Feature (October 24, 2006)

Teaching the "Write" Way


This term, the Pearson Adult Learning Centre is offering Writing 12 for the first time. Originally conceived as an either/or proposition, Writing 12 has been more often given as a creative writing course in recent years; longer ago, the course was frequently offered as a journalism option. At the ALC, I am trying a "hybrid" of both streams.

Too often, adult students spend their time producing academically correct but a bit boring prose. Essays and paragraphs pour forth from our classes and, eventually, students get the hang of it. Nothing wrong with that, but in the longer term, exercising their creative (and journalistic) side offers benefits, including a more developed style and sense of voice in student writing.

You know the students I mean: the ones who surprise you with something keenly observed, a funny story, an apt turn of phrase.

Recently, my students have been challenged to "show" what we see in a jealous person (but without any dialogue allowed). It's hard and they've felt their way, sometimes falling back on an omniscient narrator or using spoken words to make the scene succeed. But when one of them had a character blacking in some girl's faces in a high school yearbook, I knew the exercise had been worthwhile!

It's rare at the ALC, but because of our tightly scheduled classes, Writing 12 is offered over a full year. I've had the luxury of easing students in to writing more creatively (while still treating them to a "Greek Technique of the Week" to help them polish their rhetorical skills). Soon, we'll begin making the hard decisions of publishing: what's good enough for publication and how might editing strengthen a piece of writing?

So, stay tuned! Expect a student led online newspaper in the second term. In the meantime, we'll continue to search for the "write" way together.




Visit Last Week's Feature:

Writing Better Paragraphs

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