Friday, December 15, 2017

Teaching writing

The semester is over (well, pretty much). Papers are graded and grades have been assigned. That's why I thought it was a perfect time to talk about the benefits of teaching writing. I can personally say, teaching writing has been the most beneficial thing I have ever done to improve my own writing.

But first I should point out that I am one of those who makes the majority of his living as adjunct faculty at two local facilities. I have also served as a substitute teacher, tutor, and a number of other duties in the realm of teaching positive writing techniques. Currently, if you are curious, I am employed at Norfolk State University and Paul D Camp Community College. That means at various times throughout the year I have to grade stacks of paper that look like this:

But here are some of the benefits of teaching writing:

Teaching gives me a chance to go over grammar rules, such as the ever dreaded comma splice, verb tense shifts, fragments, etc.

It also gives me chance to discuss writing forms. Although my students learn the techniques of writing a good essay, it relates to fiction in that both must have a good beginning (it's best to open with a hook), an informative middle, and a satisfying conclusion.

Additionally, it gives me the chance to read essays from other published writers, such as Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, George Orwell, and Isaac Asimov, to name just a few. If these now famous writers once made a part of their living by writing essays for publication, perhaps I can as well.

Third, it gives me chance to see young budding writers honing their craft. Many of my students are starting out rough around the edges, especially when it comes to writing. That's not intended to be a knock on them. Many are first generation, and even first semester college students. After all, even the most beautiful sculptures started out as a hunk of shapeless rock.

Yes, I think teaching others how to write is one of the best things anyone can do for their own writing. If you consider yourself a writer, give it a try. If you can't get into a college, most libraries will allow others to give writing lessons for free. Or find yourself a small studio to rent and charge for the service. Give it a try. It really helps.

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