Let's Help Each Other Out!

This is a place for creative writing teachers to share idea to be come better teachers.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Is Anybody Listening?

    With my students, if you write something on the board, underline it three times, and tell them to remember it, they won't remember it.
     That's because they don't take notes. It's creative writing after all. We're here to have fun and be creative, which seems to mean to them at the beginning of the semester--anything goes, free writing, doodle time.
     It could be, since I'm talking about the first class offered here, taken by freshman and sophomores mostly, they weren't required to take notes in high school. Maybe notes don't help when a teacher teaches to the test.
     Notational writing, and being able to listen closely, especially to the ques given my the instructor as to what is essential knowledge, is an important skill they will need to have for many forms of work.
    A friend of mine turns the lights down in the classroom, in part, to prevent students from texting in class. I have never noticed anyone texting, but they could be doing it.
     So I'm going to require students to take notes, and to turn their notes in at the semester, as part of their grade.
    I've tried putting much essential knowledge on handouts, but you can't put everything on a handout. Often they leave them behind. Often they never look at them again, unless you put points on the handout and tie it to how an assignment is graded.  Students need to learn how to listen and concentrate. They need to take notes.  ADD generation they may be, but they can learn to listen and to take notes.
     Listening is such an important skill in this world not only for a career but for interpersonal relations and for being a writer. I can't even turn off listening even when I'm hearing a bad sermon in church. I look around me, and a lot of people have their eyes closed, or eyes glazed, staring off in space.
      Few people seem to be able to listen.  You have to have a few years on you to notice that the gradual decline, but Americans, I personally don't think, haven't been good listeners for a long time. Listening cramps their individuality, their own free expression.  I'm guilty of the crime of not listening at times myself. Who isn't? It's a bit of a challenge to drive, listen to the radio, talk on the cellphone, and pay attention to what my daughter is saying in the back seat.
     Reading--a one media art--just words on the page, no music, no visuals--is another way to teach people to listen. When you read a novel, you are listening to one person talk for a long time.


  1. I still have notes from your creative writing class in 1996. I can't read much of it, but I have notes.

  2. One of my profs had us turn in a bound copy of all of our notes and returned papers as a semester portfolio. He also assigned an official note taker each class meeting and that person was responsible for typing up the notes and distributing them to everyone at the next meeting. Our portfolios had two sets of notes, the typed ones and our own hand-written ones.