I imagine that I’ve made things seem pretty sunshine-and-rainbows in these last few posts, as I have shared my discoveries from discussing peer commenting practices in FYC and creative writing with my colleagues. And while I may have noted some logistical challenges in adapting creative writing workshop practices to the FYC classroom, the truth is that there may be a far more fundamental challenge: student creative writers care about their writing in a way that student FYC writers generally don’t.
I discussed this challenge with both Becka and Papatya. Both suggested that perhaps a piece of personal writing early in the semester might move towards solving the problem in the FYC classroom. My experience as a teacher of writing makes me dubious, although Papatya did note that’s precisely how FYC was taught at one of her previous institutions. I suspect, though, that the required nature of FYC would be the fundamental challenge. I often feel like students walk into my classroom wanting to be anywhere but there, wanting to take a course that they do care about (which generally means something within their majors). I work hard at making my classroom fun to counter these feelings and, generally, I think I am successful. But I don’t know that I can resolve that core issue.
Becka, I think, put it best: “Creative writing students are more invested in their writing because they think it comes out of their souls.”
Of course, I usually want students to produce writing that comes out of their thinking and not out of their souls. After all, one of the basic things I feel I need to teach in my FYC class is critical thinking. But surely there is a way to bridge this gap, to help students invest in their critical thinking and the writing that comes from it.
Honestly, though, I don't have an answer today. But it’s a question I will carry forward as I continue these explorations of peer practices in different disciplines, so you can expect we will be discussing it again. In the meantime, if you have a way of getting students to care about their writing in your FYC class, please share it in the comments here.