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Writing Fantasy and the Identity of the Writer pp 23–63 Cite as

Why Does It Matter How Creative Writing Is Taught?

  • Zoe Charalambous 4  
  • First Online: 28 July 2019

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Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture ((PASCC))

Charalambous provides a comprehensive review of Creative Writing pedagogies to date with the objective of allowing the reader to consider the assumptions behind the Creative Writing courses they have been taught and pointing to the scarce qualitative research about students’ Creative Writing texts and Creative Writing exercises currently in the field. Three distinct strands in the literature of Creative Writing are discussed: Creative Writing in relation to Literature, to the self (or shift of self) and to research. The first section deals with the conceptual bases of Creative Writing, referring to its relationship to Romanticism, New Criticism, Theory and the workshop. Next follows an analytical account of the literary, the therapeutic, the political and the research conceptions of Creative Writing.

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The study of Creative Writing as a subject is interlinked with its scholarship and the ideologies espoused about writing (studies). By “writing ideologies,” I mean here a particular line of logic followed with regard to the function of writing: for example, we might say that our practice is informed by the ideology that writing is an art form that can be used for raising political awareness or that writing is an art that does not have to have a specific purpose.

Interestingly, the concept of ‘creativity accessible to all’ became the symbol for democracy and ‘ capitalist productivity ,’ during the 1920s and 1930s. Similarly, in a post-industrial narrative, the ethos of a creative class is an argued ‘force for economic growth’ (Dawson 2005 , p. 46; see also Webb 2012 on a further critique). This aspect of “artistic spirit,” then, by the name of “creativity,” might be perceived both as a mode of social expression and suppression.

The Ancient Greek connotations to ‘mimesis’ are a matter of debate, however.

Attesting to the complex interstices of links in literary theory, New Criticism, which arose in the middle decades of the twentieth century, is connected to Formalism, defined as the study of the literary text concerned with the purposes of the text focusing on form, not external influences (Waugh, 2006 , see pp. 212–22, and pp. 165–75). It arose as a reaction to Romanticist theories of the individual writer and genius, originating from Russian formalism, and afterward Anglo-American New Criticism (ibid.).

It is (ironically) defined as ‘a building in which manual labour took place’ (Dawson 2005 , p. 81).

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Zoe Charalambous

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Charalambous, Z. (2019). Why Does It Matter How Creative Writing Is Taught?. In: Writing Fantasy and the Identity of the Writer. Palgrave Studies in Creativity and Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-20263-7_2

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  • Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century

In this Book

Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century

  • Edited by Alexandria Peary and Tom C. Hunley
  • Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Table of Contents

restricted access

  • Title Page, Copyright
  • 1. Rhetorical Pedagogy
  • Tom C. Hunley and Sandra Giles
  • 2. Creative Writing and Process Pedagogy
  • 3. Mutuality and the Teaching of the Introductory Creative Writing Course
  • Patrick Bizzaro
  • 4. A Feminist Approach to Creative Writing Pedagogy
  • Pamela Annas and Joyce Peseroff
  • 5. Writers Inc.: Writing and Collaborative Practice
  • Jen Webb and Andrew Melrose
  • pp. 102-125
  • 6. Writing Center Theory and Pedagogy in the Undergraduate Creative Writing Classroom
  • Kate Kostelnik
  • pp. 126-152
  • 7. Service Learning, Literary Citizenship, and the Creative Writing Classroom
  • Carey E. Smitherman and Stephanie Vanderslice
  • pp. 153-168
  • 8. Creative Literacy Pedagogy
  • Steve Healey
  • pp. 169-193
  • 9. The Pedagogy of Creative Writing across the Curriculum
  • Alexandria Peary
  • pp. 194-220
  • 10. A Basic Writing Teacher Teaches Creative Writing
  • Clyde Moneyhun
  • pp. 221-242
  • 11. Digital Technologies and Creative Writing Pedagogy
  • Bronwyn T. Williams
  • pp. 243-268
  • 12. Ecological Creative Writing
  • James Engelhardt and Jeremy Schraffenberger
  • pp. 269-288
  • pp. 289-292
  • Contributors
  • pp. 293-298
  • pp. 299-310

Dr Francis Gilbert

Staff details.

Dr Francis Gilbert

Academic qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) English Literature (Sussex University, 1989)
  • Post-Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in English and Drama (Cambridge University, 1991)
  • Masters (MA) in Creative Writing (University of East Anglia, 1992)
  • Diploma in Journalism (London College of Printing, 1998)
  • Post-graduate Certificate in Teaching for Higher Education (PG Cert) (Goldsmiths College, 2012)
  • PhD in Creative Writing and Education (Goldsmiths, June 2015)
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy SFHEA (2019)

Francis is the Head of the MA in Creative Writing and Education and course leader for PGCE English. He teaches on both programmes, including:

  • Modules on the MA in Creative Writing and Education, including Research into Creative Writing Practices and Creative Writing Pedagogies & Identities (2017 to present)
  • University-based sessions on the Secondary PGCE, including ones on the teaching of English and Professional Studies (2015 to present)

Professional projects

Francis has organised a number of conferences at Goldsmiths, including ones on Reading for Pleasure and Teaching Creative Writing. He runs a project with the Widening Participation Team which encourages young people in local schools, hospitals and charities to write creatively, leading to their work being published in an anthology at the end of the academic year. He has made numerous and ongoing appearances on television as an educational commentator, including BBC News, BBC Breakfast, Newsnight, Channel 4 Dispatches, Sky News, ITV News, and Channel 4 News. He has also been featured in radio programmes including Radio 4’s Today programme, Woman’s Hour, and Review, among others.

Featured work

How Teaching to the Test Depresses Results , OCR (Oxford and Cambridge exam board) conference, Cambridge, March 2019.

Gilbert, Francis . 2019.  Snow on the Danube . London: Blue Door Press. ISBN 9781916475403

Gilbert, Francis . 2018.  The Mindful English Teacher: A Toolkit for Learning and Well-Being . London: FGI Publishing. ISBN 978-1974255863

Research Interests

Creative and Life Writing; Educational Studies

Publications and research outputs

Gilbert, Francis . 2019. Snow on the Danube . London: Blue Door Press. ISBN 9781916475403

Gilbert, Francis . 2018. The Mindful English Teacher: A Toolkit for Learning and Well-Being . London: FGI Publishing. ISBN 978-1974255863

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. Who Do You Love . London: Blue Door Press. ISBN 978-1539626183

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. How to Get A Great English Degree . London: FGI Publishing. ISBN 978-1492282181

Edited Book

Friedland, Deborah; Troiano, Gabriel and Gilbert, Francis , eds. 2022. Diversity and Inspiration . London: Gold Publishing (Centre for Languages, Culture and Learning). ISBN 9781913694074

Gilbert, Francis , ed. 2022. Creative Power: Investigating Creative Writing & Its Value . London: Gold Publishing (Centre for Languages, Culture and Learning). ISBN 9781913694081

Brankin, Emma; Gilbert, Francis and Sharples, Carinya , eds. 2020. Inspire: Exciting Ways to Teach Creative Writing . London: Gold Publishing. ISBN 9781913694043

Gilbert, Francis , ed. 2020. Dreams and Nightmares: The Gold Schools Anthology 2020 . London: Gold Schools Publishing. ISBN 9781913694029

Edited Journal

Gilbert, Francis , ed. 2020. Writing in Practice , Writing in Practice , 6. 2058-5535

Book Section

Macleroy, Vicky and Gilbert, Francis . 2021. A Century of Teaching Creative Writing in Schools . In: Andrew Green, ed. The New Newbolt Report: One Hundred Years of Teaching English in England. Oxford: Routledge. ISBN 9781003141891

Gilbert, Francis . 2020. The Haunted House: Teaching Creative Writing Through Collaborative Learning to 9-13 year olds . In: Emma Branking; Francis Gilbert and Carinya Sharples, eds. Inspire: Exciting Ways of Teaching Creative Writing. Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, pp. 107-125. ISBN 9781913694043

Gilbert, Francis . 2024. ‘I need you to jump out of your seat and go plant more flowers!’ What do primary school children in Lambeth want for their local parks? Educational Studies Blog,

Gilbert, Francis . 2023. Teaching Mindfulness in an Unmindful System . British Journal of Educational Studies, ISSN 0007-1005

Pitfield, Maggie ; Gilbert, Francis ; Asamoah Boateng, Claudia and Stanger, Camilla . 2023. Selective amnesia and the political act of remembering English teaching . Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 31(5), pp. 1059-1077. ISSN 1468-1366

Gilbert, Francis . 2023. Review of Creativity in the English Curriculum: Historical Perspectives and Future Directions by Lorna Smith . Changing English, 30(4), pp. 425-427. ISSN 1358-684X

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Angela Kreeger: Subject of the miracle of modern medicine and psychoanalysis. Educational Studies Blog,

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Review of Out of Time: Poetry From the Climate Emergency . Writing in Education, 86(Spring), pp. 57-59. ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Why and how should we encourage young people to research their local parks and green spaces? Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Blog,

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Review of Real-World Writers: A Handbook for Teaching Writing with 7-11 Year Olds by Ross Young and Felicity Ferguson . Teaching English, 28(Spring), p. 86. ISSN 2051-7971

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. The Time Devil runs amok: How I improved my creative practice by adopting a multimodal approach for a specific audience. Writing in Practice, 7, pp. 120-132. ISSN 2058-5535

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Diagrarting: Theorising and practising new ways of writing . New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 19(2), pp. 153-182. ISSN 1479-0726

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. The Reciprocal Rebellion: Promoting Discussion in Authoritarian Schools . Changing English, 29(3), pp. 232-250. ISSN 1358-684X

Gilbert, Francis ; Daly, Grainne and Riley, Peggy. 2021. Letting it all spill out: the benefits of venting for creative writing teachers and students . Writing in Education, 84, ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis and Matthews, Miranda . 2021. Affective digital presence: how to free online writing and drawing? Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 14(2), 29. ISSN 1753-5190

Gilbert, Francis . 2021. What’s Next? Ecoliteracies and creative writing . Writing in Education, 83, pp. 12-19. ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis . 2021. Teaching Creative Writing Online: Research-Informed Strategies . Writing in Education, 83, pp. 89-91. ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis and Macleroy, Vicky . 2021. Different ways of descending into the crypt: methodologies and methods for researching creative writing . New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 18(3), pp. 253-271. ISSN 1479-0726

Gilbert, Francis . 2021. Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies . Changing English, 28(2), pp. 148-168. ISSN 1358-684X

Gilbert, Francis . 2020. Lockdown lessons: Teaching and working during the Covid-19 crisis . Writing in Education, 81, pp. 31-40. ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis and Matthews, Miranda . 2020. Finding a new path: Building affective online learning spaces for creative writing and arts practice . BERA Blog,

Matthews, Miranda and Gilbert, Francis . 2020. Finding a new path: Building affective online learning spaces for creative writing and arts practice . British Educational Research Association,

Gilbert, Francis . 2020. Whatever Happened to the New Man? Blue Door Press Blog,

Gilbert, Francis . 2020. 8 Ways To Teach spelling, punctuation and grammar . Teaching English, 22, pp. 49-52. ISSN 2051-7971

Gilbert, Francis and Pitfield, Maggie . 2019. Teaching 1984 in the surveillance culture of schools . English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 18(1), pp. 85-99. ISSN 1175-8708

Gilbert, Francis . 2019. Mindfulness and Creative Writing . Writing in Education(77), ISSN 1361-8539

Gilbert, Francis . 2019. The Teachers' Standards and English Teaching . Teaching English(19), pp. 33-36. ISSN 2051-7971

Gilbert, Francis . 2018. Riding the Reciprocal Teaching Bus A teacher’s reflections on nurturing collaborative learning in a school culture obsessed by results . Changing English, 25(2), pp. 146-162. ISSN 1469-3585

Gilbert, Francis . 2018. Aesthetic literacy and autobiography . Writing in Practice, 4, ISSN 2058-5535

Gilbert, Francis . 2018. Mindfulness and English Teaching . Teaching English, 16, pp. 54-56. ISSN 2051-7971

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. Where did all the male teachers go? The Times, ISSN 0140-0460

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. Dreaming of a Better World . Teaching English,

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. The Creative Writing Teacher’s Toolkit . Writing in Education, 2017(73),

Gilbert, Francis . 2016. The Dark Alleyway . Writing in Education, 70(2016), ISSN 1361-8539

Francis, Gilbert . 2016. We need to reform the academy system – and stop the power-hungry super-heads . The Guardian, ISSN 0261-3077

Gilbert, Francis . 2016. Aesthetic Learning, Creative Writing and English Teaching . Changing English, 23(3), pp. 257-268. ISSN 1358-684X

Gilbert, Francis . 2016. Freedom and the new English GCSEs . Teaching English,

Gilbert, Francis . 2016. The Party in the Snow . GLITS-E, 2015/6(5),

Gilbert, Francis . 2015. Corbyn? Blimey, yes! Politico EU,

Gilbert, Francis . 2014. 'Sacked': Extract from the novel Who Do You Love? Glits-e: a Journal of Criticism, 4,

Gilbert, Francis . 2012. Novel extract from Who Do You Love? Glits-e: a Journal of Criticism, 2,

Gilbert, Francis . 2012. 'But sir, I lied – The value of autobiographical discourse in the classroom' . English in Education, 46(2), pp. 198-211. ISSN 0425-0494

Conference or Workshop Item

Gilbert, Francis . 2024. ' Creative Writing and English: collaboration, connection, crossovers '. In: Creative Writing and English: collaboration, connection, crossovers . The English Association, United Kingdom 7 March 2024.

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. ' How can we harness the power of creativity? '. In: Creative Power Conference. Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom 9 December 2022.

Gilbert, Francis ; Leena, Dhingra and Steve, Roberts. 2020. ' Decolonising Creative Writing Conference presentation '. In: Decolonising Creative Writing. United Kingdom 11 December 2020.

Matthews, Miranda and Francis, Gilbert . 2020. ' Affective Digital Presence in Creative Practice '. In: Centre for Arts and Learning, Affective Digital Presence in Creative Practice . Online 3 November 2020.

Gilbert, Francis . 2019. ' Improving your results without teaching to the test '. In: Improving Results without teaching to the test: four key lessons. Cambridge, United Kingdom 27 March 2019.

Gilbert, Francis . 2017. ' Reciprocity and reading '. In: Reciprocity and reading . Goldsmiths, United Kingdom 14th September 2017.

Gilbert, Francis . 2016. Lines of Work: Teacher Francis Gilbert on Rousseau .

Gilbert, Francis . September 2022 - July 2024 Spreading good practice: developing the Parklife Toolkit .

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. Exciting Developments in the Parklife Project! A Community Garden will be coming soon! .

Gilbert, Francis . 2022. How can primary school children improve their local parks? .

Gilbert, Francis . September 2022-July 2024 How can we help young people improve their local environments? How can they become agents of change? .

Gilbert, Francis . 2023. Inquiry: Urban Green Spaces . Discussion Paper. UK Parliament, London.

Gilbert, Francis . 2015. Who Do You Love? The Novel of my Life (Creative Writing thesis) and Building Beauty: the Role of Aesthetic Education in my Teaching and Writing Lives (commentary on the Creative Writing thesis) . Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London

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why teach creative writing examining the challenges of its pedagogies

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Teachers Workshop

A Duke TIP Blog

Why Teach Creative Writing? Part 1

October 5, 2017 By Lyn Fairchild Hawks Leave a Comment

This post provides a rationale for teaching creative writing often. It’s part of a larger series on integrating creative writing in your curriculum.

“Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These six senses increasingly will guide our lives and shape our world.” ― Daniel H. Pink,  A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future

Give Them a Voice

why teach creative writing examining the challenges of its pedagogies

Me and Mrs. D. She let me draw, too–a set for my play.

When my seventh grade teacher said, “Yes, Lyn, we can perform the play you just wrote about time travel!” I was one ecstatic kid. The play I’d spent so many hours writing–she thought it deserved an audience! Mrs. Dunckel, my beloved English and Social Studies teacher, said yes to my creativity, risk taking, and passion that till then, lived hidden and parallel to school, despite being inspired by the history textbook.

Today as I write my young adult novels, I play with character, plot, point of view, setting, and style–and then worry obsessively about whether my work makes people want to turn the page. When I write professionally for Duke TIP, I think about voice, purpose, angle, and organization, what I consider the nonfiction twins of creative writing tools. Then I worry obsessing about whether I’m crafting a narrative easily read by the busy online educator. (Are you still reading?)

What’s your rationale for teaching creative writing? How often do you teach it, and why?

Share with us below , all i really need to know, i learned from creative writing….

why teach creative writing examining the challenges of its pedagogies

Natural-born storytellers shouldn’t be stymied when the pen hits the page, but some of our most gifted writers, cultural icons, even, complain of being stifled in English class. There’s the famous story of S.E. Hinton, 17 year-old author of The Outsiders , who earned a B while changing the face of children’s literature (some credit her with “starting” the YA genre). Why wasn’t her “ burning desire to tell another story, one she observed daily at school — the hostilities among her peers, divided by social class ” enough to get the A?

It’s likely there was little space for her stories. Mrs. Dunckel gave me that space.

Best of Both Worlds

Why, then, doesn’t our writing curriculum root heavily in the art of the personal narrative while we attempt to analyze someone else’s? Why aren’t students writing more short stories and novels and screenplays of every genre? Standards and tests, sure–everyone’s confined by those. But what if…(the beautiful question fueling every speculative fiction piece)..what if we could make it all work together? What if personal narrative and fiction writing were part of every week of the curriculum? What might the world have already seen from Angie Thomas, 29 year-old author of the current New York Times YA bestseller, The Hate U Give , had she been able to start the story, right as she was living it, at age 16 in her classroom?

why teach creative writing examining the challenges of its pedagogies

“Folks, set your watches for ancient Egypt! Next, ancient Rome!” I and my classmates who played historical figures and time travelers featured in my play, getting ourselves into high jinks happening across time–trust it was much harder to forget those facts of history. When creativity meets lists of facts, stuff sticks.

This idea of blending creative work with content and skill standards  is nothing new in the realm of education: trail blazers have set us afire with brilliant ideas for many decades, such as Nancie Atwell , whose writing workshop method allows students mine the richness of their lives for daily work on personal stories and nonfiction pieces. There are programs such as Phillips Exeter where students focus writing practice intensively in 9th and 10th grades as they craft the personal narrative.

Beginning with a person’s deep and innate interest–the self–we can train students to create believable characters, compelling plots, and vivid settings, all the while turning to mentor texts as great examples of “how to.”

It’s not only standards-based learning. It’s a design for learning that allows time for direct instruction, group instruction, independent work, and group sharing.

Habits of Mind Creative Writing Creates

The world’s problems have historically been solved by the most fluent and flexible of thinkers. So imagining new ways in and out of trouble–which is essentially all authors do, torture their characters!–is great practice for just about all disciplines.  Fluency is a generative aspect of creativity, the ability to produce many ideas in response to open-ended problems, while flexibility is the talent for seeing a problem from many perspectives, trying many different approaches, and categorizing ideas in a variety of ways. Society’s greatest innovators aren’t afraid of thought experiments and discarding ideas that don’t work, so writing prompts that encourage fluency, flexibility, and revision are key.

The Big Questions

Here are some of the high level essential understandings and questions that students derive and explore–along with their own epiphanies–when we let creative writing unfurl in your classroom. There are far more, but let’s look at just a few. These understandings try to cultivate flexibility, fluency, and risk taking. These are excerpted from Duke TIP’s  Creative Writing: Adventures Through Time .

Essential Understandings: Students will understand:

  • Authors have a range of characterization options to explore when developing a fictional personality.
  • Authors balance several variables during character development, including traits and motivations.
  • Professional authors are good observers and listeners.

Essential Questions: Students will explore:

  • How do the Six Threads of Characterization intersect with character traits to establish clear character motivations?
  • What traits should I develop in my characters?
  • Do I want to research a particular back story or setting related to a certain character?

For tips on how to integrate your “regular” curriculum with regular creative writing experiences, check out Why Creative Writing, Part 2 .

Want a lesson plan for kicking off a creative writing unit with a preassessment? Head here  to Lesson Blueprints.

Maybe a Unit?

If your school or district or state is not keen on this type of curriculum, you may be able to teach as a short unit or integrate piecemeal elements of Duke TIP’s Creative Writing: Adventures Through Time , a curriculum that can be a few days’, weeks’, or months’ worth of materials for gifted elementary and middle school students. And guess what–kids get to travel to ancient Egypt and Rome in this one, too!

why teach creative writing examining the challenges of its pedagogies

About Lyn Fairchild Hawks

Lyn Fairchild Hawks currently serves as Director for Curriculum and Instruction for Duke TIP’s distance learning programs, where she supervises teachers and designs curricula and online student benefits. A long-time teacher, Lyn has published curricula with TIP, NCTE, Chicago Review Press, and ASCD. She is author of Teaching Julius Caesar: A Differentiated Approach and coauthor of Teaching Romeo and Juliet: A Differentiated Approach and The Compassionate Classroom: Lessons that Nurture Wisdom and Empathy . She is also an author of the young-adult novel, How Wendy Redbird Dancing Survived the Dark Ages of Nought , for high school students, and coauthor of the graphic novella, Minerda , for middle grade students. She is represented by Tara Gelsomino of One Track Literary Agency.

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  • Philosophy of Teaching

Big Time Magic: Creative Writing Pedagogy in the Accelerated Learning Program Classroom

  • March 28, 2022
  • Melanie Dusseau, MFA

Open book with magic stars

Quick: what is your favorite class to teach? Chances are this is not a particularly tough question for most faculty to answer. If you are like many teachers, the subjects which geek you out the most are the ones that tip your enthusiasm meter to bliss.

For many MFA degree holders moored to composition positions, this class is our single section of creative writing: the fun, talented, slightly unruly child you favor over your less sparkly kids with only a twinge of guilt. Since the course is universally an elective at community colleges, there is the added bonus that students want to be in creative writing. They choose to be there. The first time I heard the term “co-requisite remediation,” it sounded like something that is done to you, like a painful spinal adjustment. Billy, hold very still so that we do not have to restrain you during your co-requisite remediation. What it does not sound like is anyone’s favorite class, teacher, or student.

When my Dean approached me to create a pilot course in developmental writing, I wanted to abandon the workbook structure of deficit-based remediation and create a more engaged and inclusive experience for learners.  Like many community colleges, we were streamlining our developmental offerings and very excited about the research in Accelerated Learning Programs (ALP) coming out of the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC). I had the great benefit of attending a pre-conference workshop at the Conference on Acceleration in Developmental Education (CADE) with Dr. Peter Adams the summer before I taught my first developmental writing section. The subject was non-cognitive issues, something I thought I had a decent grasp of, as I am a devotee to both relationship-based and compassionate pedagogies. Such strategies rely on our abilities as educators to bear witness to traumas large and small; we have asked students for their stories, and we cannot leave them wanting an empathetic ear. What is the creation of any art if not a balm for the soul? Non-cognitive issues for developmental writers take on an entirely new dimension when immersed in the ALP philosophy, which strives to both remove the developmental stigma and give students more agency. As I listened to Dr. Adams speak about persistence, self-efficacy, emotional health, teamwork, community, and responsibility, something about the way he characterized “the cohort effect” began to feel familiar (Adams, 2015). The end of the semester is a celebration of writing! Students, even the most introverted, form genuine bonds of friendship with fellow classmates. This is what every professor who facilitates a creative writing workshop hopes for by the semester’s end. If these phenomena occur frequently in a class like creative writing, why not in my other classes? More importantly, what is really so different about that environment? The students? Perhaps my approach to the subject matter could use a little more magic and a little less spinal adjustment.

Enthusiasm for your subject matter does not a pedagogy make; therefore, the scaffolding of assignments and structure of the cohort itself in any linked, accelerated developmental course are essential. We decided on a 14 to 10 ratio of students, with the 10 developmental writers meeting directly after the credit-bearing composition section. In addition to forming strong bonds as a small group, the cohort effect also relies on the idea that exposure to college level writers as peers in the composition section allows developmental writers “access to role models who are stronger writers and more savvy about ‘doing college.’” (Adams & McKusick, 2014, p.18). We talk a lot about the cult of influence in creative writing, in which emerging poets and fiction writers examine and analyze craft elements of writers they admire and aspire to model. A student in a writing workshop with a single, gorgeous simile might be sitting next to one who produced a clunker of a cliché. Instead of, “I can’t do that,” the student with the clunker asks, “ How did you do that?” Luckily, writers of all stripes like to talk about process.

After the jolt of inspiration I experienced at CADE, I went in search of supplemental text. Let me tell you, this is a confusing world for those of us who are neither by trade nor training developmental learning experts. What I really wanted for the pilot class was something akin to a common read selection. Libraries, reading groups, and First Year Experience (FYE) programs everywhere have great success with titles that feel like non-required reading to students. Pick an interesting book and let that be the basis for everything from class discussion to minor assignments to fun, engaging reflections. I tell my students on the first day of class that writing is about ideas. Why not assign a text to reflect this—especially one that might also serve as an inspirational model for developmental writers? What if the big idea for the entire semester was creativity and not comma splices?

Enter Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic . This book is unapologetically goofy and cloaks its no-nonsense, kick-your-muse-off-the-couch self-help vibe with equal parts fairy dust and practical advice. The chapter titles—Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity—directly hit so many of the non-cognitive marks essential to ALP that it instantly felt like a perfect match for an accelerated workshop. Since I normally trick my regular composition classes by treating the first few weeks of the narrative unit exactly like a creative writing class, what if I continued to immerse my developmental writers with subjects addressing and inspiring creativity for the entire semester? ALP pedagogy tells us that students must see the big picture, the big thing we want them to do well. In a composition course, this big thing is to master the academic essay, not its working parts in isolation. Imagine taking a woodshop class. First, we’re going to test your woodworking skills with a flawed, inequitable measure. Looks like you have some real deficits. In a small, stigmatized group, let’s work on sanding over here, hammering nails over there. Professor Voldemort will show you the plans for the birdhouse we want you to build only after you master these tasks. Every time I have overheard a student mutter a version of “this is stupid,” you can bet the more direct translation is: “This makes me feel stupid.” A workbook approach to developmental writing breeds the kind of “deep-rooted erroneous beliefs about learning that shape most remedial programs” according to reformers like the dearly missed Mike Rose (2012, p. 12).

An ALP class worthy of including the word “workshop” in its title can borrow a few ideas from creative writing, where everyone is a beginner. Here, upfront and center, are the big, complicated plans for the poem or short story we want you to write. Make mistakes; try different tools. We are all going to become better writers along the way. Not only can you build this birdhouse/essay/poem, you are also capable of creativity, humor, clarity, ethical research, and, yes: eloquence. A handout I still give to students—so vintage it always feels fresh from the mimeograph machine—is Kurt Vonnegut’s excellent essay “How To Write With Style,” which, like Gilbert’s book, treats writers as if they are capable of doing all of the big things we want for them, and not the lowered expectation version. “Pity the reader,” Vonnegut advises. A sharp-elbowed way of insisting on a concept for which every writer needs a reminder: writing is for someone, received in the brain of a fellow human: your audience of readers.

What does this look like in the classroom? For me, it involves borrowing the best activities from creative writing and applying them to another writing context: part collaborative workshop with its laughter and risks, part First Year Experience course with its practical advice, positive psychology confidence boosters, and individual attention, and another part book club with the chaotic, insistent expression of ideas, opinion, reflection, and inspiration. Gilbert has a wonderful notion on the origin of ideas: that they are a kind of bodiless, magical force looking for expression. In Big Magic , she writes: “Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest. And the only way an idea can be made manifest in our world is through collaboration with a human partner” (Gilbert, 2015, p.35). Every semester in my developmental writing workshops, I hope the same for my students: that they are both receptive to the Big Time Magic of ideas trying to get their attention, and willing to do the rewarding work of creativity and rhetoric in order to usher them into the world.

Melanie Dusseau holds an MA in English Language and Literature from The University of Toledo, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She has taught Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing full-time at Northwest State Community College since 2011. When creating the co-requisite developmental writing pilot, the power of storytelling and creativity became the guiding pedagogy, and this focus continues in both Composition and ALP/developmental writing at NSCC.

Adams, P., & McKusick, D. (2014). Steps and missteps: Redesigning, piloting, and scaling a developmental writing program. New Directions for Community Colleges , 167, 15-25. doi:10.1002/cc.20107

Adams, P. (2015, June). Non-Cognitive issues in the accelerated classroom . Pre-conference workshop presented at the 7 th Annual Conference on Acceleration in Developmental Education, Costa Mesa, CA.

Gilbert, E. (2015). Big magic: Creative living beyond fear . New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

Rose, M. (2012). Back to school: Why everyone deserves a second chance at education . New York, NY: The New Press.

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Changing English

Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

Publisher URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1358684X.2020.1847043

DOI: 10.1080/1358684X.2020.1847043

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  1. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    Francis Gilbert is a Lecturer in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is Head of MA Education Programmes and the MA in Creative Writing and Education as well as being course leader for PGCE English. He has taught creative writing for many years and has published novels, memoirs, social polemics and educational guides. Before becoming an academic, he worked for a quarter of a ...

  2. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies Authors: Francis Gilbert Goldsmiths, University of London Abstract This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative...

  3. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies Francis Gilbert Published in Changing English 14 December 2020 Education ABSTRACT This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake in his poem 'The Tyger', its furnaces are examined and its 'deadly terrors' clasped.

  4. Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies

    Examining the challenges of its pedagogies. Abstract This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake...

  5. Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies

    Examining the challenges of its pedagogies - Goldsmiths Research Online Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies Tools Gilbert, Francis . 2021. Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies. Changing English, 28 (2), pp. 148-168. ISSN 1358-684X [Article] Text

  6. Teaching creative writing in primary schools: a systematic review of

    Teaching writing is complex and research related to approaches that support students' understanding and outcomes in written assessment is prolific. Written aspects including text structure, purpose, and language conventions appear to be explicit elements teachers know how to teach. However, more qualitative and nuanced elements of writing such as authorial voice and creativity have received ...

  7. Why Does It Matter How Creative Writing Is Taught?

    Charalambous provides a comprehensive review of Creative Writing pedagogies to date with the objective of allowing the reader to consider the assumptions behind the Creative Writing courses they have been taught and pointing to the scarce qualitative research about students' Creative Writing texts and Creative Writing exercises currently in the ...

  8. Critical-Creative Literacy and Creative Writing Pedagogy

    glenn clifton Critical-Creative Literacy and Creative Writing Pedagogy 91 1 ABSTRACT: This article builds on psychological research that claims critical thinking is a key component of the creative process to argue that critical-creative literacy is a cognitive goal of creative writing education.

  9. Teaching creative writing in primary schools: a systematic review of

    The biggest challenge faced by teachers is that most of the students' desire to write is very low. ... the teachers' lack of confidence in creative writing pedagogies, a lack of shared ...

  10. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies Gilbert, Francis Changing English: Studies in Culture and Education, v28 n2 p148-168 2021 This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake in his poem 'The Tyger', its furnaces are examined and its 'deadly terrors' clasped.

  11. Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century

    A fresh and inspiring collection of teaching methods, Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century combines both conventional and cutting-edge techniques to expand the pedagogical possibilities in creative writing studies. Table of Contents Download Full Book Cover Download Title Page, Copyright Download Contents Download Prologue

  12. Creative Writers as Arts Educators

    In addition, writing is often viewed as the most marginalized creative art, in part due to its inclusion within English, which itself has been sidelined in the arts debate.Notwithstanding these challenges, research and development studies have begun to create new opportunities for collaboration, with teachers and professional writers sharing ...

  13. Creative Writing Pedagogies for the Twenty-First Century

    The creative writing workshop: beloved by some, dreaded by others, and ubiquitous in writing programs across the nation. For decades, the workshop has been entrenched as the primary pedagogy of creative writing. While the field of creative writing studies has sometimes myopically focused on this single method, the related discipline of composition studies has made use of numerous pedagogical ...

  14. Dr Francis Gilbert

    New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 18(3), pp. 253-271. ISSN 1479-0726 . Gilbert, Francis. 2021. Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its pedagogies. Changing English, 28(2), pp. 148-168. ISSN 1358-684X . Gilbert, Francis. 2020.

  15. PDF Why teach creative writing? Examining the challenges of its

    Examining the challenges of its pedagogies. Abstract This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake in his poem 'The Tyger', its furnaces are examined and 'its deadly terrors' clasped.

  16. Why Teach Creative Writing? Part 1

    Part 1 October 5, 2017 By Lyn Fairchild Hawks Leave a Comment Share Share Share Share Share This post provides a rationale for teaching creative writing often. It's part of a larger series on integrating creative writing in your curriculum. "Design. Story. Symphony. Empathy. Play. Meaning.

  17. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake in his poem 'The Tyger', its furnaces are examined and its 'deadly terrors' clasped. It re-interprets the different views of teaching English, as drawn up in the United Kingdom's Cox Report.

  18. Creative pedagogies: a systematic review

    The paper also reveals that the evidence for the impact of these pedagogical practices on students' creativity is inconclusive. It highlights the complexities and challenges of documenting creative pedagogies in the years of formal schooling and concludes with key recommendations and implications for research, policy and practice.

  19. Critical-Creative Literacy and Creative Writing Pedagogy

    While this historical position may have helped creative writing instructors to distance themselves from abstruse theoretical debates, it also ran the risk of encouraging a resistance to pedagogical reflection; the romance of the earthy, "real" kernel of activity - the production of creative work - allowed the discipline of creative writing to se...

  20. Big Time Magic: Creative Writing Pedagogy in the Accelerated Learning

    She has taught Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing full-time at Northwest State Community College since 2011. When creating the co-requisite developmental writing pilot, the power of storytelling and creativity became the guiding pedagogy, and this focus continues in both Composition and ALP/developmental writing at NSCC. References

  21. Why Does It Matter How Creative Writing Is Taught?

    Charalambous provides a comprehensive review of Creative Writing pedagogies to date with the objective of allowing the reader to consider the assumptions behind the Creative Writing courses they ...

  22. Why Teach Creative Writing? Examining the Challenges of Its Pedagogies

    This article examines the deeper purposes behind the teaching of creative writing. To extend an analogy created by William Blake in his poem 'The Tyger', its furnaces are examined and its 'deadly terrors' clasped. It re-interprets the different views of teaching English, as drawn up in the United Kingdom's Cox Report.

  23. Creative pedagogies: examining the pedagogies fostering possibility

    Creative pedagogy describes the practices that enhance creative development through the three interrelated elements of creative teaching, teaching for creativity, and creative learning. Therefore, this paper uses the term 'pedagogies' rather than 'pedagogy' to acknowledge the plurality of the strategies used by the teachers' there is ...