Teaching is a job that requires a huge amount of passion and commitment, and when teaching something artistic like writing, that passion and commitment increase exponentially. However, you don’t want something you adore to be misconstrued and watered down by poor technique. Let’s examine the top three mistakes teachers make when instructing writing and some easy solutions to teaching writing more effectively.
Lack of Framework
When someone is brand new to any technique, it can feel similar to being within a maze, and an instructor has the obligation to provide a map to their students in the form of a framework. A lack of said framework leaves students incredibly frustrated as they feel they are clambering to piece together concepts without seeing the web that connects all of them. A great solution to this is to go into your teaching program much the same way an architect would, making sure your curriculum is always working towards a synthesis of the knowledge at the end of it.
While originality is key in writing, and no writing teacher would ever condone outright copying anyone’s work, eliminating samples from the curriculum entirely would be a tactical mistake. There is something to be said about the power of inspiration, especially in creative mediums. Students who are not exposed to upper echelon masterful writing, won’t really get a feel for the power of expression that can be tapped into with writing. A simple solution to this would be to start the day with a brief passage of one of your favorite writers before beginning the lessons, so your students can absorb some of that craftsmanship and get inspired.
This goes hand-in-hand with the aforementioned requirements of having a solid framework, which suffers if you do not have a consistent curriculum to place on top of the foundation. Many teachers often have a sporadic approach to introductory material. They may have one week be about literature and another week about postmodern fiction without any kind of transition. A good solution to this would be to make sure all the material has a common theme that transcends genres and writing methods, which could include social commentary or personal development. It is important to get creative, but it is also important to make sure the entire curriculum builds to a takeaway for the students.