Friday, August 17, 2018

Teaching as learning

I've long found teaching to be one of the best ways of learning. I've taught creative writing and literature at QUT in Brisbane since 2008, and before then I held teaching positions at other universities and schools.

Teaching doesn't require you to be unequivocal or to have perfectly formed ideas. The reality is that sometimes you're only just ahead of the students in your preparations. But it does prompt you to articulate questions clearly, and to express your thoughts in ways that are approachable to others. I use the term approachable because your thoughts are really the beginning of a dialogue, not the conclusion of a point that you're trying to make.

Students should feel that they can come towards your ideas with their own. For me, that approach has allowed me to better understand what I want to achieve as a writer, but as importantly what some of my weaknesses as a writer have been. Being able to identify common issues in the work of others becomes a powerful way of identifying them in your own.

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Not too long ago, I was asked to sketch out some of the key ideas and terms that we use to teach creative writing at QUT. It really is only that - an opening sketch - but one that offers a sense of how a dialogue about writing techniques might begin.



Film by Nicholas Martin and Tom Francis, November 2017
Produced by Courtney Pedersen/QUT Creative Industries