February 11, 2009

The Kwantlen Load 'Em Up Tactic

I am disappointed to note that some upper-level Creative Writing classes are falling into the same academic rut other disciplines (most notably English Lit) do. Quantity over quality--or at least an attempt to almost make the two synonymous.

In my Short Fiction class this semester, our usual course load of several original pieces of work, along with supplemental reading responses, has also been boosted by an elaborate "reading as writers" project. We get to examine three stories (by two authors) line by line, and come up with ten questions for each story. Out of the total thirty questions, we respond to twenty in paragraph form and then write a five page short essay on a particular use of craft by one of the authors. All things said, the project is worth twenty percent of your total grade and due one week before your first story.

Question: when are we supposed to write the story?

Look, I get that upper level classes need to push analysis and craft. I'm thankful for it, really. But isn't the point to take craft knowledge and apply it to our own writing? Could we not simply apply the aforementioned project tenets to our regular weekly readings and garner the same results?

Thanks to this unnecessary project, I get to read a slew of sub-par story submissions this week--mine included--that basically ignore every craft lesson implied by the preceding project. Why? Because we had to spend fifteen wretched hours analyzing the shit out of stories rather than writing our own. This isn't bloody English Lit.

Alright, I'm being a little facetious. But I've never understood the idea of crushing the student with work load, rather than ensuring they produce works of quality. What is of greater value to the prof? Six mediocre projects or three kick-ass ones? Who in their right mind would consider the former? Or want to read them?



Sam said...

isnt there a set number of pages each CRWR class has to produce?

Harry Tournemille said...

Not sure. No prof has made an express comment that I can remember. I suppose the portfolio should contain around 30 pgs--in this case of horse shit.