Earlier today, my FB friends, most of them writers and teachers, had a lively debate over Ryan Boudinot’s post in the Stranger.com:
Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One
Since I had the privilege of completing two MFA programs, and also teaching creative writing at the undergraduate level since 1999, I found that I had much to respond to, paragraph by paragraph, to what Boudinot claims to have learned in his experience as an MFA teacher.
I recently left a teaching position in a master of fine arts creative-writing program. I had a handful of students whose work changed my life. The vast majority of my students were hardworking, thoughtful people devoted to improving their craft despite having nothing interesting to express and no interesting way to express it. My hope for them was that they would become better readers. And then there were students whose work was so awful that it literally put me to sleep. Here are some things I learned from these experiences.
Response: are you sure it’s them? Maybe it’s you.
If I were to overhear a fellow colleague complain that some of their student’s writing, produced in his/her class was making her fall asleep, I would have to advise him or her to review the assignment more carefully, to design an intervention, to modify the parameters by which the students are asked to challenge themselves through their writing, and to make them care more about their audience.
I can certainly appreciate the frustration that goes along teaching a topic that is of life-death importance to an instructor, since students seldom have the maturity of appreciating that subject at the same level, but the true challenge of teaching is that we want to reach every student, not just students who already have success spelled on their foreheads and were already self-motivated to start early.
I could never be satisfied taking a salary paid in large part from student tuitions and resign myself to “making them better readers.” This has been the standard, pass-the-buck response of too many privileged writers who were assigned their teaching positions based on the record of their publications with little to no scrutiny given to their teaching philosophy and approach to the classroom. I’m afraid that for those who spent 3 years and mortgage-sized loans wanting to learn the art of writing, becoming better readers just doesn’t cut the mustard.
As a teacher, I am more ambitious than that. I’d be embarrassed to admit, openly that making them better readers is all I could do.
Writers are born with talent.
Either you have a propensity for creative expression or you don’t. Some people have more talent than others. That’s not to say that someone with minimal talent can’t work her ass off and maximize it and write something great, or that a writer born with great talent can’t squander it. It’s simply that writers are not all born equal. The MFA student who is the Real Deal is exceedingly rare, and nothing excites a faculty adviser more than discovering one. I can count my Real Deal students on one hand, with fingers to spare.
Response: are you the best judge of students’ talent?
I may or may not agree with the absolute statement that writers are born and not made, but I cannot agree, in any way, that you or any other instructor are the sole judge of that. I have seen too many students I considered only “average” blossom into startlingly talented writers when they turned to a subject that truly inspired them, or when they were finally freed from the constrictions of grades. Sometimes, it took my class, and all the failures that they had to face, to turn them into great writers, or to lead them away from bad habits. Other times, they had it in them all along, and for some reason, I was unable to see that while they were my student, and while I always openly encourage everyone, I am glad I have never openly discouraged anyone because I know I would have lost a few really good ones. In fact, having faith in students that seemed to be mediocre, encouraging them, insisting they try, was rewarded with that student’s success in at least two occasions — and by success, I mean books published by reputable legacy publishers or prestigious MFA program acceptances replete with scholarships and stipends.
Before you wholesale dismiss thousands of potential students based on the assumptions that because you have failed to bring out the writer in some of your students, those writers cannot be helped by anyone else, consider how your career would have turned out if someone had told you right from the start, “I can’t help you, kid. You’re either born a writer, or you’re not.” Even if you don’t say it out loud, students can sense your disinterest in their work. Maybe you just don’t have the eyes to see who is born with it and who isn’t: I operate by the assumption that I don’t, and it has worked out well fro my students.
If you didn’t decide to take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, you’re probably not going to make it.
There are notable exceptions to this rule, Haruki Murakami being one. But for most people, deciding to begin pursuing creative writing in one’s 30s or 40s is probably too late. Being a writer means developing a lifelong intimacy with language. You have to be crazy about books as a kid to establish the neural architecture required to write one.
Response: we teach our students not to make sweeping statements that are unsupported by serious data. Where is yours?
This one, for me was the most startling of your absolutes. I came to this country when I was 12, impaired by language. I’ve managed to publish plenty of stories, and two award-winning books. You call Murakami a “notable” exception as if you had data to confirm your absolutist statement. My suspicions are that you have made up your mind on this based on your ability to get along well with students who came to your class already prepared for success. Sure, reading at an early age and loving writing from early on is a sure advantage for anyone wanting to become a writer, but there are more exceptions than you think — I’ve seen many, many of them during the two MFA’s that I attended to get my preparation.
And what does it mean to you to “make it” as a writer? I am in the habit of polling my students at the start of a course regarding their intentions, both long term and short term. Before I do that, I give them an overview of the field, appraising them thoroughly on the competitiveness of the commercial market and the literary market. I was for years surprised to discover that a significant percentage of students had no real desire to become commercially successful through writing, or even to publish a book. They were sincere lovers of the craft and simply wanted to experience it with a mentor, get better at it, and write more. Why are these not writers in your eyes? Why do you consider them failures? Is money and official publication what proves a writer? It has been my experience that frequent publication comes to some great writers, but also to many mediocre ones who are well connected or who understand the market trends well. There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of talented writers out there who are pursuing careers as computer programmers, bankers, and other professions, who write better than those of us who are publishing books.
If you complain about not having time to write, please do us both a favor and drop out.
I went to a low-residency MFA program and, years later, taught at a low-residency MFA program. “Low-residency” basically means I met with my students two weeks out of the year and spent the rest of the semester critiquing their work by mail. My experience tells me this: Students who ask a lot of questions about time management, blow deadlines, and whine about how complicated their lives are should just give up and do something else. Their complaints are an insult to the writers who managed to produce great work under far more difficult conditions than the 21st-century MFA student. On a related note: Students who ask if they’re “real writers,” simply by asking that question, prove that they are not.
Response: is teaching self-reflection and time-management skills not in an instructor’s job description?
Do you mean to say you never asked for confirmation? Never in your life? Do you mean to say you couldn’t find the time to sit with a student and ask her to consider why she wants to write? What matters to her? Have you never told her how many of us can never find satisfaction in external confirmation? That we can win awards, be published in the best of journals, and, like Salinger, like Capote, never really feel like we’ve accomplished anything? Why do students have to know this inherently when they come to you? Can you not explain that the challenge is within oneself? Isn’t it that for you?
If you aren’t a serious reader, don’t expect anyone to read what you write.
Without exception, my best students were the ones who read the hardest books I could assign and asked for more. One student, having finished his assigned books early, asked me to assign him three big novels for the period between semesters.Infinite Jest, 2666, and Gravity’s Rainbow, I told him, almost as a joke. He read all three and submitted an extra-credit essay, too. That guy was the Real Deal.
Conversely, I’ve had students ask if I could assign shorter books, or—without a trace of embarrassment—say they weren’t into “the classics” as if “the classics” was some single, aesthetically consistent genre. Students who claimed to enjoy “all sorts” of books were invariably the ones with the most limited taste. One student, upon reading The Great Gatsby (for the first time! Yes, a graduatestudent!), told me she preferred to read books “that don’t make me work so hard to understand the words.” I almost quit my job on the spot.
Response: it’s an instructor’s job to develop student’s enthusiasm for reading; it’s no one else’s job, and no one else’s fault if that doesn’t happen.
I agree that students don’t read enough, that they have preconceived assumptions about reading, and that these assumptions are standing in the way of their growth, but, once again, it is our job to gently help them see how those assumptions are hurting them. Students will always try to find shortcuts. We’ve taught them to do that throughout our educational system. I would love it if every student who came to my class had read all the classics already, and loved reading. Most of them don’t, and though I can blame it on previous teachers, it’s also my fault if they leave my class and still don’t have a love of books. As a teacher, it’s my job to change their minds, no one else’s. If these students have made it all the way to graduate school without having read great books like The Great Gatsby, it’s because of teachers who, like you, threw up their hands when they couldn’t force a student into submission. Reading tastes are developed over time; they require maturity on behalf of the reader, and they require personal connection.
You cannot simply throw a book like Infinite Jest to someone who has only read fantasy novels and expect them to like it or understand it, just like you can’t throw calculus at a kid who barely learned arithmetic. I know you think that they should have all gone through this process in their undergraduate years or their high school years, but they haven’t. What will you do? If you don’t care, who will?
I struggle with this reading problem every course I teach, but I meet my students where they are, then stir them, according to their tastes and preferences, towards works that are related but literary in nature, works that challenge them subtly. Many of my fiction students who came in loving zombies end up being fans of absurdist writers. A taste for books can be developed and should be respected. I have never liked Moby Dick, hated Infinite Jest, and could never get through Catcher in the Rye for the five times I read that book and hated it each time. You cannot impose your own idea of great literature on the rest of the world. I love plenty of books that are literary, complex, layered, and difficult to read (I pride myself in having read every last sentenced of the unabridged 900 page Yoga Vashista and the Tibetan Book of The Dead in every last annotation and footnote), but I will never read Infinite Jest ever again, nor ever assign it on any poor soul. Some other instructor will, someone who can actually appreciate that type of literature and grow enthusiasm for it in his students’ hearts. Learning starts from enthusiasm, and if a student has no enthusiasm, you cannot just give up on him. It’s your job to find what lights them up from within and stir them towards their growth.
If you fail, it’s on you. Don’t blame the students. They showed up. Did you?
No one cares about your problems if you’re a shitty writer.
I worked with a number of students writing memoirs. One of my Real Deal students wrote a memoir that actually made me cry. He was a rare exception. For the most part, MFA students who choose to write memoirs are narcissists using the genre as therapy. They want someone to feel sorry for them, and they believe that the supposed candor of their reflective essay excuses its technical faults. Just because you were abused as a child does not make your inability to stick with the same verb tense for more than two sentences any more bearable. In fact, having to slog through 500 pages of your error-riddled student memoir makes me wish you had suffered more.
Response: being cruel to students doesn’t make them better writers
Again, if the educational system prior to students taking your class failed these students by failing to impart on them basic grammar skills, why are you angry at the student? It’s your job to make it clear to the student just how important and basic grammar is to a writer, to ignite a sense of urgency in them, and to help them find the appropriate resources to deal with this problem. I’m sure that those of your former students who wrote memoirs in your class who are reading this post will probably stop writing, at least for a month or two, and hate their memoirs hereon. Good job, teacher.
You don’t need my help to get published.
When I was working on my MFA between 1997 and 1999, I understood that if I wanted any of the work I was doing to ever be published, I’d better listen to my faculty advisers. MFA programs of that era were useful from a professional development standpoint—I still think about a lecture the poet Jason Shinder gave at Bennington College that was full of tremendously helpful career advice I use to this day. But in today’s Kindle/e-book/self-publishing environment, with New York publishing sliding into cultural irrelevance, I find questions about working with agents and editors increasingly old-fashioned. Anyone who claims to have useful information about the publishing industry is lying to you, because nobody knows what the hell is happening. My advice is for writers to reject the old models and take over the production of their own and each other’s work as much as possible.
Response: for once, we agree.
But letting a student wade alone through the infinite sea of self-publishing without presenting them with a realistic picture of all the work and investment of time and money one must be willing to make is like throwing them to the sharks. It is your job, as a teacher, to know enough about the industry to steer them right, and, in the least, to refer them to those who know more, if you can’t help them yourself.
Overall Response: teaching is hard work – we’re not here just for the good ones; we are here especially for the ones who need help.
Too many people assume that teaching is just strolling into a classroom and helping fire up the imagination of already talented students. It’s a lot more difficult than that. My job exists because of students who don’t read much, students who love to write but have difficulties expressing themselves, students who really want to excel and be great but are misinformed about the discipline and skills it takes to get there. We as teachers simply cannot dismiss students as “not having it” and “not being born with it” or “too late to get to it.” It’s unacceptable. If we accept them into MFA programs, take their money, and time, and hopes and dreams, then we have to make it work. However difficult it may be. I’m sorry to say this, but I’m glad you quit. It takes stomach to be a teacher.
43 thoughts on “Those Who Teach, Can – A Formal Reply to Ryan Boudinot’s Post on Teaching”
I had a personal relationship with Ryan, and his oozing ego, decades ago. As a teenager, his narcissism already piloted his sociopathic shell of a personality. I spent hours listening to him berate not only me, but his teachers, fellow students, even members of his family. What you are seeing is not Ryan’s reaction to teaching in an MFA program, it is simply Ryan.
I just stumbled across this. Thank you for writing it. The thing that bothered me the most in Boudinot’s piece was the assertion that if you didn’t take writing seriously by the time you were a teenager, then you weren’t cut out to be a writer. I come from a culture where the arts are STRONGLY discouraged. They’re considered a hobby and little more. As a teenager I could have never dreamed of actually being a writer. It’s only when I matured a bit, met other artists and writers at university, and became financially independent, that I began to entertain writing seriously – that was at the age of 26. I’m now 30, on the verge of graduating from an MFA program, and the journey has been incredible. Yet I’m always plagued by doubt, as are most artists, and that assertion in Boudinot’s piece increased my doubts, especially as some have been praising him for being a harsh and necessary truth-teller. You unpacked Boudinot’s ‘absolute’ statement beautifully. Again, thank you for your thoughtful response.
As a philosopher who teaches writing I agree with a lot of what the response post says. However, the original writer has a point when he writes that he can’t teach the students to be serious readers. I think there are nuances to point out here, of course. We as teachers can and should be good role models and introduce students to ways of living that had never occurred to them. This happened to me as an undergrad, and I remember being stunned to think I could listen to interesting types of music, cook various types of ethnic food, read lots and lots of books, talk about them with my friends, and live in a way that ignored the conventional social pressures in my provincial small town. And I became a philosophy professor, and I do all those things now. However, I didn’t need to be sold on reading Hume, or Kant, or Kripke, or Wittgenstein. They were assigned or suggested, or I ran across them, and professors encouraged me or graded me based on those readings, so I signed on to that enterprise. Even when it was hard-going, they were encouraging, which is probably a bit part of what was missing from the original post. We owe them encouragement, but it’s not our fault if students simply don’t get interested enough to work on developing more advanced (or any) reading habits.
A million times this. Thank you. If that man had been my instructor I would have asked for my money back the first week. Wow.
Boudinot’s piece didn’t inspire me to write a single word, but your terrific response did.Thank you so much for your passion and skill–the world needs teachers like you.
Thanks for your thoughtful response to Boudinot’s trashy blog post. My own take on it isn’t quite as thoughtful, but who knows, maybe you’d get a kick out of it. It’s at PLAZM magazine’s urbanhonking blog: http://urbanhonking.com/plazm/2015/03/05/bitter-mfa-dude/
“pass the mustard”? That’s “muster,” mister, as in “pass muster.”
Ha ha. Thank you for that. Missed it!
Oh, it’s like pass the ketchup or pass the salt! :=) I’m a master for mixing cliche’s. I also for some reason can never remember if it’s toy boy or boy toy. I had that problem for years! It’s just part of my language garble.
Although I almost wholeheartedly agree with the article in question, this is an excellent point of view as well. I think it’s a matter of philosophy. For example, many teachers expect their MFA students to come in being thoroughly vetted by the committee, and with an reasonably observable amount of talent and self-motivation. Further, these students should have been curious enough to have gathered a good amount of information about the business side of the field beforehand so that they can spend most of their time doing what they’re supposed to do–write.
On the other hand there’s something of the purist teaching point of view that proffers forth the idea that whatever students they get, that’s what they have to deal with as best they can; that it’s the teacher’s job to bring out talent, to motivate, and to provide as much help as they possible can.
But I have to agree with my self-described former opinion. When a student enters any graduate program, they should already be well-prepared and self-motivated. It doesn’t matter if they have commercial aspirations or not; they’re there to work and learn and by passively shambling into the program they waste the teacher’s time and suck up space that more dedicated would use.
When it comes to forking over money for a degree that guarantees a very low return on investment, the department owes a duty to all the students to provide them with fellow students who are equally motivated and knowledgeable. Not all can come in with the same credentials but none should be a drag on the others.
I must say I liked a lot of Boudinot’s article. I really disagree with you on the reading issue. It is not your job to make students of creative writing like reading. People who don’t voluntarily read and read widely have no business enrolling in a graduate program in creative writing – or even an undergraduate major in it. Being a devoted reader is a necessity if you want to be a good writer. It also shouldn’t be put on the shoulders of past teachers. I’ve been a constant reader since I was five, always reading several books at a time and devouring everything English instructors gave me just for fun. (I write poetry, not fiction, and this is a screen name, but the importance of reading holds true for poets as well) No one taught me that. It was inborn. Frankly, no one could teach me that. You have the passion or you don’t. The writers who are most likely to end up writing great stuff in the future are those who come to you asking for recommendations and have read half the books you name. Teachers provide know how. It is up to the student to bring the fire.
I don’t argue that the importance of reading holds true for any writer, really. I do think that some had the luck of being led to it early in life, while others only discover it because they love to invent stories. Shaming someone for not reading is not helpful. If someone agrees to take on the role of teacher, then this someone has agreed to take the good with the bad and to try to be a true guide to everyone, regardless of flaws. I do agree that students (writers) need to take responsibility for their own education, but that does not exonerate teachers from it. That is my point. I don’t disagree, actually, with anything that Boudinot said in terms of what preparations students really need, but that is what professors are there for, and I guess in this I disagree with his bucking that responsibility, and in your saying that it’s not our responsibility. I agree to disagree on this point.
“doesn’t pass the mustard” ? did you mean to say “doesn’t cut the mustard” or “doesn’t pass muster” ?
Yeah, my bad.
Dear Ms. Valeri, I hope you didn’t take my previous comment as too judgmental. That phrase made me laugh, so I was teasing a bit. Maybe it was not nice. I’m sorry. But I do want to say that I enjoyed reading your rebuttal to Ryan Boudinot’s post, and sincerely wish I had the benefit of your teaching when I was in my 20s, and had developed a passion for reading and writing. Alas, just as my finger painting was deemed not good enough in elementary school I always found my writing boring and shallow. For all of the students who never said thank you for you, I will. 🙂
Thank you for taking the time to write this reply. I hesitated in reading the comments because frankly I am afraid of social media a bit — I know it doesn’t make sense, since I have this blog, but I’ve never received these many hits, and it was kind of…startling. I thank you for thanking me, and I will also say that a teacher can only judge what you write during the period that you are writing for them. Their commentary is not, and should not be taken as a commentary on your overall potential. Believe me when I say that more and more I find that students who did not show extraordinary promise in one class, blossomed in another, or after graduating. I think the only thing that anyone can ever teach you about writing is to marry it, and be committed to it, and all that comes along with it (including reading as much as you can!) and sooner or later, it will pay off.
Funny teacher. “Pass the mustard.” I’ve heard the expression “cut the mustard” (make the grade) and “cut the cheese.” What does “pass the mustard” mean?
How about “pass muster.” I am hoping that was an oops, just like my son’s English teacher’s oops with the classroom banner bearing the word CONFIDANCE. Yep. Misspelled confidence, which didn’t give me much confidence that the teacher had passed muster. 😉
I read this former MFA teacher’s article via The Stranger here in Seattle yesterday morning. The thing that gets me is I took from it that he was a graduate of the Writing Seminars at Bennington, and yet he seems to have forgotten the main tenant of what is taught at Bennington: To foster a life in letters and let writing and reading be the conduit that lets you do that, and to be a vital part of its community.
Ryan Boudinot utterly fails to do this in his article, and chooses to demonize everyone who works hard to write and read based upon the quality of their prose and reading choices; it is interesting to note that not one of the books he suggests is written by a woman, which is sad. It was suggested to me at Bennington to read Willa Cather, and I ended up devouring everything she wrote. I was also asked to read Alice Hoffman, which lead me to believe I wasn’t cut out for magic realism. I also read scores of other women writers and was blessed to have 3 exceptional women as teachers there, and also Douglas Bauer. All of them suggested books to read based upon my writing and my interests, not theirs.
His flippancy towards child abuse was extremely offensive, and to suggest that a writer should have suffered more is abhorrent.
I’m a graduate of Bennington’s MFA writing seminars and am deeply offended by Mr. Boudinot’s screed. I was also a professor for 3.5 years in film and video and, though the quality of student work was all over the map, I still loved teaching and miss it every day because the richness of the teaching experience is about changing or bettering someone’s life, and for bringing forth the magic that only the student can achieve if they work hard. Having a small hand in that is a blessing for any teacher.
Based upon his article, and the vehement response he’s roundly received, he really should be removed from the City of Literature here in Seattle. He has no place being there.
Thank you for articulating this so eloquently. I find that a lot of students who don’t read don’t do so because the only literature they have ever been introduced to simply never connected with them. And yes, it is a teacher’s responsibility to find that something that connects with a student. I think your comment says so much more eloquently than I did, though. 🙂 Thank you for your support.
The dislike for Moby Dick, Infinite Jest, and Catcher in the Rye told me all I needed to know about the writer’s perspective on this topic.
Glad you feel that way. My favorite books are A Hundred Years of Solitude (which I read both in Spanish and in English — the Spanish is infinitely better), Bel Canto (Anne Pratchet) Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison), Sula (Toni Morrison), The Periodic Table (Primo Levi) — and you may notice that all those books are written by either female or non American, non white people (except for Levi who is Jewish, but Italian). Then again there is The Lost Books of The Odyssey. If you’re trying to imply that I don’t read complex books, you are obviously missing the point, and showing as others have noted, that you have a bias towards a certain type of writer, male, white, and in the case of Wallace, a self-proclaimed elitist. I don’t begrudge you or anyone that taste, but do disagree that it’s the marker by which the rest of us should be judged. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
I really enjoyed reading this. I believe that an essay should spark dialogue, and I’m glad to be a part of this dialogue as a reader.
I was one of his students and I had a good experience with him. (I have no misconceptions of where I stood as the “Real Deal”: I wasn’t.) But I also knew a few students who did not have a good experience with him.
As I’ve taught a few creative writing programs, I have grown a lot as a teacher. Your post has given me a lot to think about. Teaching is a profession like any other and should not be entered into simply as a “rest area” until our books sell and we can now afford to do something else. Just because we are in love with the subject, does not mean we can or should teach.
Thanks for your comments.
Thank you so much for saying that. When I was at Iowa there was one teacher who was very well known for his harshness on students. Some people lined up to take his workshop, many because they believed that if they could pass him, then they were validated as real writers. Unfortunately, just as many left his class heartbroken and feeling like they could never write again. Some people respond well to tough criticism, but I guess I believe that tough criticism can also destroy potential, and in the least we should be careful to point to resources, approachable ways to direct students to overcome their weaknesses. Thank you so much for writing your response. I appreciate your perspective.
Though we only had one course together, I am infinitely glad to have had you as my teacher.
Well put. Real teachers understand these points intrinsically, regardless of what age student you teach. How many of us would never have learned to read if all teachers felt this way? I’m glad he quit as well, before he had a chance to crush the hopes and dreams of his future students with his pompous and elitist BS.
I don’t think you are teaching at the level Boudinot has taught. I also don’t think you understand how painful it is to be expected to impart an appreciation of good writing to those who have read little, write drivel, and.believe (sic) that belief (sic) in themselves as writers can work magic. Writing is & should be a long, hard process, and too many bad writers & bad writing currently pollutes the air. *Indeed not adequately vetting students for college and grad school level skills is where the sham originates. And bad teaching at lower levels and at home too often does a disservice to students & too often handicaps them to the extent that readiness necessary for higher thinking and writing is an aim too high. Witness the rampant sins in speaking, writing, and every kind of communication in these Unted States. From educators no less than the mass media and the greatly illiterate general public. My sympathies are with Boudinot and those who dare speak out. Language is in big trouble in this American culture.
I appreciate your perspective Ama. After I saw how many hits I got on my response, I felt bad. I wanted to say that I understand that frustration, that it’s hard for teachers to have to work that hard. Still, it’s our profession, and yes, I have taught higher level courses, although not consistently. If anything it’s much worse as an undergraduate: you get a lot more students who think it’s going to be a walk in the park, and we are under the axe for too many drops, while at the same time we get scrutinized and criticized both for too many F’s or too many A’s, so it’s always a catch 22 situation. Still, I disagree with the method, with the dismissive way Boudinot treated his students, and with his absolute certainty of their potential or lack thereof. Thanks for chiming in and fostering dialog.
I’m an undergraduate writing major at Grand Valley State University, here in Michigan. I hope to teach writing someday, either in high school or at a university level, we’ll see what happens. Wherever I end up, though, I hope to be as determined, inspired, and caring of a teacher that you obviously are.
I’m an undergraduate writing major at Grand Valley State University, and I hope to teach writing someday. Either at a high school level or university level, we’ll see what happens. No matter where I end up, I want to be as inspired, determined, and caring of a teacher that you obviously are.
Good for you! One of the best memoirs I ever read was from a young person out of her depth (in terms of vocabulary and correct grammar) in a grade 12 creative writing class, but whose memoir of climbing up in the mountains in her native Afghanistan when Mazar al-Sharif fell, and her family’s lives were in danger from the Taliban was one of the best things I have ever read. To help those whose skills are not yet developed, to see the satisfaction they feel when they recognize they have ‘put it better’– wish I was still teaching, man.
What a fantastic response Laura! Wohoo!
Thank you. This is what makes you a valued teacher – you’re doing it for the student, not for yourself.
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