This semester I am taking a course on Teaching Creative Writing. We are gaining instruction on and practicing teaching an imagined freshman Intro to Creative Writing course. We role play being college freshmen for each other as we take turns leading the “class”.
In October I will be teaching one piece of literature of my choice, and I’ll be leading one workshop of a freshman student’s writing (that piece is being provided).
Which piece of literature – short story, essay, or poem – to teach to the class?
By way of this blog post, I am opening the field to suggestions.
I have several collections of short stories/essays/poetry from which I am considering a piece (all of which, btw, I would suggest you read):
Wampeters, Foma & Granfalloons – Kurt Vonnegut
Horoscopes for the Dead – Billy Collins
Kentucky Straight – Chris Offutt
If I Loved You, I would Tell You This – Robin Black
The Bridegroom – Ha Jin
In the Vonnegut collection is a piece called “Address to the Graduating Class at Bennington College, 1970”. This is an actual address (I assume) given by KV and is a snapshot of the writer at his height. I am leaning toward it. There would be a lot to talk about regarding the piece, a lot around setting the piece in its period as well as how freshly it translates to 2014. And plenty to investigate around what hallmarks make it a great piece of writing. There are craft points to take away from the piece. For instance there is a lot to learn about the value of making provocative claims in writing that draw in your reader.
My son suggested Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder”. I am considering it as well. This would be a classic story to teach, a well-known standard. There is a lot of benefit to that. One can research the questions that have swirled around it since its publication in 1952. The story first appeared in Collier’s and then a few years later in Playboy (June ’56). You may not recognize the title, but I’ll bet you read the story in high school. http://www.lasalle.edu/~didio/courses/hon462/hon462_assets/sound_of_thunder.htm
Regardless of which piece I pick it’ll be a hoot to try my hand at teaching lit and leading a workshop. I wasn’t an English major, so I don’t have a lot of preconceived notions of how this should go. I hope I know whether it went well or not.