Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking. Though the primary purpose of the institute is to help teachers develop new strategies for improving student writing, it was also a great resource for me as a writer.
One of the main objectives of the institute’s approach is to allow students to find their own ways into various writing projects. Another objective is to help students become more aware of their own writing and thinking processes — to use the writing process to learn about how they think and vice versa.
All told, it was a very interesting and productive week. I came away with a few ideas about how to reinvigorate my approach to teaching and how to increase student engagement with the material that I cover in class. I also got an opportunity to do some writing — an essay on my friend Tom Powers, which I’ve tentatively titled “Into the Labyrinth.”
In terms of my own writing, the workshop has definitely given me a few ideas. Just like students need to find their own ways into complicated texts, I think writers need to find their ways into nonexistent texts, the texts they’re bringing to life. Over the past few days, I’ve been putting a lot of the practices I learned at IWT to work, and they’re taking me in directions I never considered.
My week at the IWT was time well spent. I recommend it to any teacher who’s interested in integrating writing more fully into their curriculum. And if you’re a writer as well, you might come away with a whole new approach to your art.