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Mearns developed and popularized what’s considered to be the first creative writing workshop for junior high school students.He was tired of English courses that used literature as a means of drilling students on vocabulary or grammar or as some other means to an end.Or consider that teachers and professors are almost always depicted in popular culture as practitioners, not talent.
Upon hearing that, a man I met in a hostel over breakfast asked me to listen to his poem to see if it was publishable, even though, not being a poet, I have no credentials for evaluating his text.
My distant cousin, after years of asking at Thanksgiving dinners, still can’t understand why I don’t want to edit his novel.
What persists are damaging stereotypes about writing and creativity that continue to reinforce troubling dichotomies about the nature of creativity.
Consider the famous joke that “those who can’t do teach,” which parodies the work of people dedicated to fostering creative thinking in others, which requires them, also, to be constantly creating.
Writing is also associated not with workplace forms but with poetry and fiction.
A question that comes to mind is that if a persistent narrative around writing is that the only creative writing is fiction and poetry, and if families do not see themselves as skilled in this way, how can they encourage writing in all of its forms as a family value?(See, for example, , we even see the symbolic gesture of a teacher tearing up the syllabus, perhaps imagined to be the dullest of literary genres.But as a material representation of a 16-week experience, it is, I would argue, one of the most creative and rewarding of writing forms.Most of us learn to laugh off the glaze that comes over people’s faces as we academics in writing studies explain what we, in fact, do write.The problem is that one image of writing dominates the popular imagination and is weighted with value more heavily than all others: writing as “creative writing,” which is treated as if it’s interchangeable with fiction and poetry.However, according to Myers, in contrast with current conceptions of writing that treat fiction and poetry as more cultured than genres such as workplace writing, emails, lists or even theses, Mearns would not have abided by a view of creative writing as somehow more cultured or valuable.Neither would the prominent progressive educator John Dewey, Mearns’s influencer.Even for people who write daily for their trade, writing has become synonymous with poetry and fiction writing, which has become synonymous with “creative writing.” I began asking more people whose livelihoods depend on the written word and who write daily if they see themselves as writers.I also began asking graduate students who came to see me at various writing centers where I worked whether they considered themselves writers. There was something in the identity label of “writer” that people have attached to a particular kind of writing.Mearns proposed the practice of writing literary texts for self-expression, so that kids would enjoy literature, and for promoting an understanding of literature by writing it.His description of his creative workshop spread quickly and was rapidly adopted across the United States, largely because he traveled throughout the country presenting the model to teachers and schools and then published student work in various texts that were also publicly devoured.