Writing is an art, and art is supposed to be creative. But how come there’s a course called “Creative Writing?” How is this different from any conventional “Writing Course?” To be even more specific, should we have a course called – Creative Writing – in ESL, or can a conventional “Writing Course” do the job?
As an ESL teacher, I think that in the world of language pedagogy every piece of writing should be creative and therefore whether the course is called “Writing” or “Creative Writing,” creativity is an inherent part.
In this article, I’d like to share with you what happens when I teach a Writing course, which to me is no different than a Creative Writing course.
To my experience, writing has always been challenging for learners. And yet, it’s really important for success in both their academic and professional lives. They know this; however, they sort of avoid taking this challenge. I think it could be because of the following reasons:
- Learners cannot usually generate ideas which are creative, critical, inspirational, and original.
- Those who have creative ideas generally have a hard time developing and supporting them, maybe because they don’t know how to write creatively.
- Learners usually struggle with organizing their thoughts, which is an essential part of any writing endeavor.
Of these three points, the focal point of this article is to address the first issue.
In my class, I teach learners to think creatively and critically. My students should know how to write to inspire and how to show that their writing follows a logical train of thought starting at a specific point and terminating naturally at its own end. Meanwhile, the whole writing should represent a body of interrelated, coherent ideas. I firmly believe that what precedes the successful implementation of this method is to teach them to be critical, creative, inspirational and original. And that’s how I do it: like many writing teachers, I use brainstorming to keep the ball rolling. I’ve always found it a perfect warm-up exercise (pre-task) to get the class prepared for the next stage. Then, to help them develop creative and critical thinking, I apply the following techniques.
- Be creative by changing the ending to their own version: I assign my class a movie to watch or a book to read and then ask them to change the ending and explain their reasons for their choices. It’s a very good exercise for their speaking as well. It does make them think differently. And grammatically, it’s a perfect exercise for Conditional Type 2.
- Be critical by supporting what they disagree with: I give a critical article to my students and first ask them whether or not they agree with it. Then, I ask them to forget about what they believe in and try to support the idea they don’t agree with. The goal behind this is that people more often than not learn a lot from a contradictory idea. It makes them discover things beyond their horizon.
- Be inspirational and original by giving tips, advice and consultation: Everyone is unique in a certain way. In my ESL classes, people come from various backgrounds with exceptional stories and experiences to share. I ask them to imagine that they are asked to give a speech to a group of young people who decide to trace their footsteps. I ask, “What tips would you give them that you wish someone would have given you?”
Yes! Like most ESL teachers I want my students to “Think outside the box,” to gain the confidence and courage to see writing beyond a mere collection of words and sentences. I want them to know that coming up with “ideas” that are creative, critical, inspirational, and original are the keys to success in any writing pursuit.