Saturday, February 6, 2010

Writing With the Whole Brain

Teaching a writing class was an idea I had when I first moved here. At first I thought of a class called "Writing from Life," which would be based on the premise that people in art school have to take life drawing classes whether they are going to be realistic painters or not. Observation of a living human being is a necessary discipline. I still think that's a valid premise for the writer -- because I'm tired of the navel gazing of so many writers, especially the young ones and, in a sense, also the older ones who write memoirs. [However the older memoir writers at least have lived and have experiences to write about as many young one's really don't where as the young ones are mainly asserting their identity. A necessary step but often unoriginal and boring.

I decided to call the class "Writing With the Whole Brain" when I read Gene Cohen's The Mature Mind and realized there is a valid reason for telling older people -- people have to be over 55 to enroll in the Lifelong Learning program -- they have access to their whole brain and can integrate the rational writing most of them have been doing with more creative writing. It means sometimes overriding the voice of the grade school teacher with all the writing rules.

The first thing that happened that surprised me, happily, is the participation. I had six enrolees and two more had called to ask to join the class. When the coats and mufflers finally all got hung up there were 13 people arranged around the square of tables. Clearly this title is appealing. In introductions people spoke of being attracted by the title. How important a few little words are!

I'm making notes about the exercises and what I'm learning, perhaps it will become a separate blog. If not I'll return to things I'm discovering in later posts. For now I'm mulling and considering what to do next. I had the first class planned with an exercise to do in class and an assignment for next time. There will be 12 classes, and I have only a sketchy set of ideas how I'll proceed but already some discussion in class has given me a clue. I trust my own integrated right/left process to know I'll think of something. It won't be perfect but when it's all done, I will have learned a lot and then I can teach it again next fall and incorporate my learnings.


Kass said...

This sounds so fun. Wish I could be there to participate.


June -- Schools do children a disservice with all the rules and regulations of writing. You should have fun undoing those rules with your students. -- barbara