Tuesday, January 17, 2017

But how do I assess 'awe'?

In Lia Purpura's essay "There Are Things Awry Here" from her collection Rough Likeness, she describes the difficulty of teaching students writing: "I walk into class thinking Really I have nothing to say to these people, the proper study of writing is reading, is well-managed awe, desire to make a thing, stamina for finishing, adoration of language..." 

This strikes me as the ideal statement of purpose for my creative nonfiction class, which met for the first time this morning. I can offer my students opportunities to read and write, but how do I teach them awe, desire, stamina, and adoration? Where do these essential skills fit into the crowded syllabus, and how am I supposed to assess them?

Nevertheless I allowed this quote to shape the start of our semester together, which is appropriate since Lia Purpura will be visiting campus to work with this class and do a public reading in March. I'm in awe already, and I desire to inspire my class to make great things and finish them, with proper respect for the wonders of words. This is going to be a great semester! (If I can just survive this first difficult week....)   

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