Let's Help Each Other Out!

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


     We've had considerable debate about workshops on the FB Poets site. One problem is the word stands for such a variety of practices. When we discuss on FB we don't know if we're talking about the same thing.
       Here's my take on the typical academic workshop in creative writing classes where the students come to class having already read the sample packet by one member of the class. I have the student to be workshopped make up questions to ask the group. This has worked great for me until last semester, when my classes suddenly decided that they should be able to leave once the five questions brought by the workshopped person were discussed.  Another slight sea change in college attitudes.
     The students are good to one another. They are helpful and generally offer good advice. Workshops fit they way they are--interactive, used to playing video games and texting one another. Workshops are a bit like a party.
     So where does the negative come in?  At the product end.  The work I see coming out of MFA programs--and there are many exceptions--often seems technically competant but lacking in any interesting themes or emotional energy.
     That's why I see workshops as good for beginners, but for more advanced writers, they tend to destroy individuality and make writers all sound the same--but of course, there are exceptions, and many MFA students are aware themselves of the limitations of workshops and just grunt through them to get their degree.
     Good luck finding a job in this economy!  Trucking school might serve you better!