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Dec 13 Written by 

Hating the Teacher

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Frequently creative-writing students hit a phase when they hate the teacher. The mature students richly praised by former teachers don't like hearing that the way they're writing isn't already perfect for THIS particular class. They make stinging little comments, in class or out, about the teacher's "power" or "soapbox." The less experienced students simply hate having to work at their writing: doing things over, or in stages, or asking for help, or doing stupid exercises or worksheets, when they're used to one-step everything. Granted, it's tedious, and the natural target of their frustration is the person who makes them work. The younger ones might draft a poem about their torment or their tormentor, having no idea they are not the first to do this.

When I read or hear annoyed comments or get dark looks from students, any age, who are FED UP, who have worked ALL WEEKEND and, what, they're getting more criticism, and then there's a reading assignment and study questions--I know at least they are having strong feelings related to writing. Without strong feelings they would quit writing. Now is the time students dig in and say, "I'll show HER!" or "Okay, I will strip my writing of all the stuff that makes me look smart, this class can't appreciate it," or "Okay, I WILL just dump it all out on the page; so there!" It is much, much more important that they hate the teacher for a while instead of hating writing. And it won't be long until they get tired of hating, and -- magic -- they are at a new level. Everyone can see that. And I am relieved.

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Catherine Rankovic

Writer, with 30+ years' writing and publishing experience, 20+ years' teaching experience. Last book read: Mrs. Lincoln by Catherine Clinton.