Teaching Creative Writing High School

Teaching Creative Writing High School-46
And they did: Kate Milford's essay on sexual harassment in the subways landed on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times. Susan is still at it though Kate drifted away to become a photographer.

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'' Go now,'' I told them, ''and do likewise.'' In 1972, the head of the English department at Stuyvesant High School in Lower Manhattan asked if I'd take over three creative writing classes.I thought this might be a nice change after teaching ''regular'' English.You can teach biology and origami and how to skin a rabbit but I don't think you can teach creative writing. You can help aspiring writers in their search for their material, their style. We read Jane Austen and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hemingway and Faulkner, Chinua Achebe (a good man for once upon a time).My students thought they understood these writers, except for Faulkner.My predecessor in creative writing was happy to return to literature, grammar, spelling, vocabulary.He said the literature textbooks were terrific -- big, glossy things with pictures and charts and discussion questions galore so that you didn't have to trouble your own brain.He said I should just go in there and do something about writing. I assured them that '' Once upon a time'' was good enough for the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault and even James Joyce. They were comfortable and middle class and everything was programmed and they were in this school because they were strong in science and mathematics.They would graduate from high school to the best universities and have no adventures because that's the way it was with their families.Teacher guides and booklets bristled with tests: multiple-choice tests and fill-in-the-blanks tests and matching-column tests that would knock your socks off.All this put teachers way ahead of the kids, and my predecessor couldn't wait to hit them with the first test on '' The Iliad.'' He wondered if I knew what I was getting myself into.


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