My teaching philosophy is a product of the wide spectrum of academic worlds I’ve come from. By integrating the traditional techniques and analysis with seminar-style discussion that stresses the importance of fostering independence, I aim to provide my students with a strong understanding of the core concepts and rules of the creative writing classroom and the courage to break them.
The polarity of my educational history—an amalgam of Montessori sensibilities, low-residency, liberal arts programs, and densely populated, public Universities—has provided me with insight into the broad spectrum of classroom systems. This has afforded me the opportunity to create a pedagogy that asks students to engage in their own cognizance and creative expression, while also providing a comprehension for the traditions and history of the discipline.
My writer-posing-as-teacher persona reflects my respect for the workshop environment and its importance in nurturing a gestating writing is infallible. I believe each workshop is a community of writers, and promoting integrity, creativity, and openness will allow each community to thrive and mature in a unique and proactive way. As a working writer, I can afford my students a glimpse into the writer’s life, but moreover, my professional experience working in various areas of the literary community can further enrich their education of book writing and publish—proving a more detailed understanding and appreciation for the intricacies of the craft.
So much of academic writing is rooted in the either/or sensibility—asking students to remain within the confines of a certain genre, type of essay, or language and tone that is deemed “correct” for the assignment. I find this approach problematic, mostly because this polarizing mentality stifles the students’ ability to access their own authority as writers. By renouncing the limitations of “black and white” learning in favor of ambiguity, there is newfound accessibility for the student on the page—the reciprocity between the writer and what is written that can only evolve in the malleable grey area—a place that exists “outside the box.”
I admittedly champion the nontraditional—the rule-breaking desire to be outside the box— but I also acknowledge the importance of understanding why tradition and rules exist. I believe many of the rules in writing are made to be broken, but I also believe you cannot be successful in doing so without knowing what the rules are. I want students to challenge, change, and question the traditions of the creative writing genres—but only after they understand them the way they are. This, I believe, is the only way they can fully appreciate what it means to exist outside the box; living in it long enough to know it’s architecture, the way it was constructed, and the constraints of its’ structural integrity. They must brighten the corners and make sure they left nothing behind, so that on the day they decide to break out of it, they take with them what they need without regret, and with full confidence that they won’t ever look back.