My love of teaching writing, the teaching part anyway, goes back to when I was 13. As I have blogged before on February 12, 2010, I taught my mom to play the piano then. But I also had another go at teaching, thanks to my grade 8 history teacher the same nun, the school principal who bullied me. But this teaching experience went outside the area of bullying. If memory serves me right, each student had to teach a history class. I chose to teach about the Fathers of Canadian Confederation, complete with maps, diagrams and anecdotes.
But I couldn’t go up cold to the front of the class and teach. Not me, who had stumbled miserably through a debate. That’s where Mom came in. As I write in my memoir…
After I put the whole lesson together, Mom and I do several dry runs.
I prop up my maps on the dining room table. Mom stands at the other end in the living room and I start my spiel. We also do the dry run in the kitchen, where I go through the whole lesson, using my illustrated props and pointing with her long dressmaking ruler. She doesn’t tell me to talk slower or speak up; she listens, nods and smiles. When I am finished, she doesn’t need to say anything. I know I’ve done a good job and pleased her.
In class, Mother St. Helen calls on me to teach my lesson. I cart my maps to the front, support them against the blackboard and start, from the first provinces into Confederation and tell tales about the “fathers” behind them, I weave an interesting story that keeps the class and Mother St. Helen mesmerized. I don’t falter as I lecture, ask questions, comment on the replies, and answer questions posed by some of the students. It is as if I am transported into another world, where I tell true stories and everyone hangs onto my every word. I don’t recall the class clapping when I finish, but I can feel it in the air that they learned history without yawning.
(Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).
You might say that history keeps repeating itself – not in what I teach, but the fact that I do teach writing (and also editing, although I much prefer teaching writing). When I stand (or sit) in front of a small or large group of writers and share my knowledge I get warm fuzzy feelings. I also feel gratitude, because by sharing back and forth (my students also share their ideas and their stories) I always learn something.
Maybe that is the core. You don’t just get up in front of others and start lecturing with the attitude it’s my way or the highway. Sure, you are telling your story, your point of view, spreading your knowledge, but it is just your tiny part that you are sharing. You are there to learn, as well.
I’ll be doing more of this tonight – although this time I’m talking to a group of writers about how they can also teach writing. There will be Q & A but after the other two panelists also share their ideas. The topic actually is Writers Earning A Living: Alternate Revenue Sources and it’s run by PWAC (Periodical Writers Association of Canada) Toronto chapter, and yes, I’m a member here. It’s in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 7 p.m. tonight. Details at http://tinyurl.com/3ken7vl if you are interested.
One of the other speakers makes and sells cupcakes. It should be interesting and feed the stomach as well as the mind.
Only Child Writes