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Writing Class

I took a class today titled, “How to Teach Writing.” For those of you who want to ask, “Why do you need that class when you’ve been published?” Let me just say that knowing how to write, and knowing how to explain writing well are two different things.

Ineffective teaching:
Effective teaching:

-Teacher: This paragraph is wrong.
-Teacher: This paragraph is missing necessary details.

-Student: “Why?”
-Student: “Why?”

-Teacher: “Because I said so.”
-Teacher: “Because you haven’t told me what made you fall off the bicycle. Were you just riding down the street and fell over for no reason?”

-Student: No. The dog caught my pant leg.
-Teacher: What dog? There’s no dog in your story.

-Student: “How do I fix it?”
-Student: “How do I fix it?”

-Teacher: “Rewrite it.”
-Teacher: “Rewrite it.”

-Student: “Gee thanks.”
-Student: “Gee thanks.”

Okay, so maybe the class wasn’t that simplistic (because I’m not that dense) but most of the things the facilitator pointed out to us made me think, “Duh!” Yet despite that, duh, they were things I hadn’t thought of, because they were things I didn’t have to be taught.

I am a good math teacher because math did not come easily to me. I know how the kids think and feel when they are confused. I know what questions to ask to figure out why they don’t “get it.” I know how to explain things so they do “get it.” That is because I had a model for that; whereas I was always at the top of my class in writing. I was the model — therefore I wasn’t learning.

This leads me to wonder — who might I be if I had had someone to emulate?

Probably still me, huh? Drat.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. You know, I returned to my writing awhile back and finished one short story, but when I started working on a larger piece, I stopped again … BUT I am proud of the fact I did finish the complete plot outline at least.

  2. I started taking classes again a couple of years ago. It doesn’t seem to matter what the subject is or how much you already know about it, you can always learn more even if you only gain a little bit of knowledge. I guess that’s the beauty of getting another’s perspective. I took last semester and this summer off and I actually miss it just a bit. Hmmm… I’m a little surprised. 🙂

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