Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Light In the Belfry by Robert W. Walker

There are times as a teacher when you want to run screaming from the classroom as when a student tells you he or she does not know who Teddy Kennedy is; orrrrrrr when a student hands in a paper not only handwritten but done so with such a small script and a light pencil that it is impossible to read. Or when a student tells you, "History?? I hate history; it's done nothing for me--has nothing to do with me or my life!" That's about as good as when someone tells the awful gov't'ment to keep its awful hands off "my mdicare!"

It is rather frightful to find students enrolled in college who have not the vaguest idea of anything beyond their immediate needs - and all else can go to Perdition.
Still, the rare gems are found among the students. Those who have somehow come through our current system of education unscathed, unscarred, un-scared to speak up and who can write a complete essay with a minimum of errors and actually have something to say, have a point of view, and know the differnece between irony and sarcasm.

I keep teaching in order to get out of the house (certainly can't be the money, right?), and I enjoy seeing an aha moment manifest itself in a student's eyes. Today I pulled out the comic strip assignment, a Walker special for studnets to learn how to balance narrative with dialogue as I teach imaginative use of writers' tools even in what is supposed to be an essay (dry, dull thing unless doen well) or nonfiction which is supposed by many to have no imaginative techniques embedded whatsoever (ever face off against a board of directors?); of course, I totally disagree; I believe the writer of nonfiction and the essay can and should know all the tricks at the disposal of a fictionalist--to dramatize an issue and to argue an issue and to tug at the heart strings. And so I teach my 101 and 102 English introductory classes as production shops, workshops, hands-on, finger exercises, you name it with many a sample taken from fiction to point to what makesfor good essay and good nonfiction as well. Use of quotes, dialogue, dramatic moment can greatly enhance any issue-orientated essay or research paper so far as I am concerned and in fact all the essays--including student essays--that make it into the textbooks are chock full of the techniques and tools of fiction.

Have a great day of writing and or teaching and or both! Catch Children of Salem on Kindle!

"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black

1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm learning so much more in the after school years than when I went to school. There's always lots to learn about writing and marketing.

Morgan Mandel