Going back to college was nostalgic. From a student of Psychology, Literature and Journalism, I was returning as the Creative Writing Teacher. The moment I agreed to take on the job six months back, I was attacked by anxiety and doubts. I had never taught anyone anything before. Would I be able to teach? Would the students be interested? Did I have the patience to teach? What would I teach? Oh boy, I had more questions than answers.
Though I had mentally decided what I would teach from March, I hesitated to put it down on paper. Maybe that particular course may be scrapped said a voice inside my head. Maybe no one will sign up for it, said another voice. But when things were confirmed by March end, I started planning for the course.
Words of caution poured in from family and friends. “The students are terrors, they will bully you,” said one friend. “You don’t look like a teacher,” said an aunt. “Trust me, no one will pay attention,” said another pessimistic aunt. “How will you manage to write your books as well as teach,” asked my concerned best friend. “ Can’t imagine you as a teacher,” laughed my college friend.
The words of caution turned me into a mass of quivering jelly. But as the day of joining college drew near, I relaxed. I would manage. Either I would suck as a teacher, or, be able to teach well. I decided to judge for myself. I would first get to know my students during the initial session and then proceed after that.
It has been 22 days and I can say with a certainty that I am enjoying every moment of teaching. The students are an enthusiastic bunch and whatever else we can fake, one can’t fake enthusiasm. That’s half the battle won. They are polite, respectful and behave like angels.
An advantage I have is that they are quick learners. When I taught them the different styles of narratives, I was astonished by their rapid grasp ( it took me longer to master it). And so were the amazing descriptions they wrote when I taught them descriptive writing. I explained Descriptive Writing as using the five senses to describe an object, person, event or a place. Most of the students went beyond my expectation. Their descriptions gave me a peep into what went inside their heads. They created vivid images. Their essays on ‘My Favourite Childhood Memory’ were wonderful. Okay, there were some grammatical errors (but that’s my job to teach them proper grammar as well how to enhance their creativity).
The art and craft of short story writing saw the most participation. Each one is eager to write an amazing story. And the tough topics they have chosen make me fear for their sanity as its their first attempt at short story writing. The mental and detailed images of the protagonists they have narrated to me, have made me eager to read their short stories.
Sometimes SMS lingo does creep into their writing. But I know it will take me time to wean them away from that style. Their enthusiasm is child like. Slowly they are shedding their shyness and sharing their creative thoughts and eagerly doing the creative tasks I set for each session.
Teaching them is making me more perceptive to my own mistakes whenever I write nowadays. It’s like I am learning the basics of writing all over again. And brushing up on the basics is not a bad thing. We tend to forget the simplest rules while struggling to master the more difficult ones.
What is your opinion about teaching? Do you think teachers learn as much as they teach? Any teaching advice for a newbie like me?