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TEACHERS.NET GAZETTE
Volume 4 Number 4

COVER STORY
No matter how many hundred of millions of dollars are spent, school reform initiatives will continue to produce unsatisfying results until we unflinchingly address the critical problem of teacher quality.
We're Still Leaving the Teachers Behind...
ARTICLES
We're Still Leaving the Teachers Behind by Vivian Troen & Katherine C. Boles
Bureaucrat's Field of Dreams: If You Test Them They Will Learn -- A Rousing, Rip-Roaring,Raving Rant by Bill Page
That's My Job! Promoting Responsibility in the Preschool Classroom by Mary E. Maurer
War Impacts Preschool Students -- Current events and behavior changes from the Teachers.Net Early Childhood Chatboard
TEAPOT Word Game - What Every Teacher Should Know! by Catherine Schandl
How To Use Anchoring for Accelerated Learning by Stelios Perdios
An Art Historian on Children in the Museum by Erick Wilberding
China ESL, An Industry Run Amuck? by Niu Qiang & Martin Wolff
Editor's epicks for April by Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Egg Hatching - A PowerPoint Presentation by Mechele Ussery
Direction for Teachers of Creative Writing by Dan Lukiv
Tutorial - High Frequency Words (for students who struggle) from the Teachers.Net Chatboard
Vocabulary Activities by Lisa Indiana 2-3
April Columns
April Regular Features
April Informational Items
Gazette Home Delivery:

About Dan Lukiv...
Dan Lukiv recently completed an MEd at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, researching what sorts of activities in school have been known to encourage people to go on to become serious writers. He teaches a secondary alternate program to grade 11 and 12 students with moderate to severe socio-emotional problems. He is a poet, novelist, and short story and article writer, and his creative writing has appeared over fifteen hundred times in Canada, the USA, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Yugoslavia, Belgium, India, Iraq, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Australia. He edits a literary journal called CHALLENGER international and a scholarly education journal called The Journal of Secondary Alternate Education.

Teacher Feature...

Direction for Teachers of Creative Writing

by Dan Lukiv


(Condensed from Lived School Experiences That Encouraged one Person to Become a Creative Writer, a 2002 research study completed as part of the MEd requirements at The University of Northern British Columbia)

Copyright © 2002 by Dan Lukiv. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted in any form or through any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, or stored in a retrieval system, without written consent from the author.


Abstract

In the hermeneutic phenomenological tradition, I explored through interviews this research question: What, if any, experiences in school encouraged one person to become an adult creative writer? The literature and curriculum guides for language arts address how to teach poetry and fiction writing, providing direction for students and teachers. But do creative writing activities in school stand as examples of lived school experiences that encouraged the participant? As a poet, novelist, and short story writer, I naturally have thoughts and beliefs about what activities or events in school encouraged me to become a creative writer; therefore, I attempted prior to the interviews to bracket out my biases related to those thoughts and beliefs. I worked closely with the participant and my Supervisory Committee members to analyse emerging themes and to reduce researcher bias. Eight themes emerged from the data about what lived school experiences encouraged the participant. Recommendations based on those themes provide direction for educators. This study could serve as a prototype for further research that explores what, if any, school experiences have encouraged other people to become creative writers.

Introduction

I conducted conversational interviews with a successful Canadian poet, whose poetry has appeared in many of Canada's elite literary journals. I call him Arthur to protect his anonymity, and I interviewed him about what, if any, lived school experiences had encouraged him to become a creative writer. I speak of school experiences in terms of elementary and high school as opposed to college and university, and I speak of the creative writer as one who engages in writing poetry, fiction or drama. Indeed, the research produced noteworthy data: School experiences had existed that had encouraged the participant to become a creative writer; therefore, the exploratory nature of this study (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997; Patton, 1987; van Manen, 1990) sought to describe, in the hermeneutic phenomenological sense, themes that emerged from those experiences.

Rather than choosing "from a range of traditional options--surveys, experiments, and the like" (Cohen & Manion, 1994, p. 7), I chose, for this study, "from a comparable range of recent and emerging techniques--accounts, participant observation and personal constructs, for example" (p. 7). I looked at "personal constructs" in terms of phenomenology, in particular, in terms of "the phenomena of experience rather than by external, objective and physically described reality" (p. 20) as found in traditional, quantitative research. My choices stood logically affixed to the phenomenological nature of my research question.

I planned not to conduct a comprehensive literature review of sources that describe first hand school experiences that had encouraged people to become creative writers until I had completed an analysis and interpretation of the data. In my proposal, I referred to this review as a suspended literature review. I did not want to inadvertently bias myself. In view of the hermeneutic phenomenological nature of this study, I was following van Manen's (1990) advice: "If one examines existing human science texts at the very outset then it may be more difficult to suspend one's interpretive understanding of the phenomenon. It is sound practice to attempt to address the phenomenological meaning of a phenomenon on one's own first" (p. 76).

Suspended literature review texts that would support or contradict relevant themes in the lived experience of the participant, I decided, would appear throughout the completed study's conclusions and recommendations sections. This is common qualitative practise. Often, qualitative researchers "present literature discussions and integrate criticism of the literature into the text of a study" (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997, p. 119) rather than present a literature-review-only section "because the traditional format of qualitative research is that of a narrative" (p. 147); however, my suspended literature review revealed no hermeneutic phenomenological studies that relate to my research question.

The exploratory nature (McMillan & Schumacher, 1997) of this qualitative study did not require the existence of a problem. In terms of hermeneutic phenomenology, the study explored and interpreted "how things appear[ed]" (van Manen, 1990, p. 180). The very nature of this kind of study created suspense, or wonder, for me. I hope it creates the same for the reader:

In view of a review of the literature on hermeneutic phenomenology that turned up nothing about creative writing, I believe that my interviewing a participant has enabled me to establish a body of useful direction for teachers. That direction relates to activities in school that may encourage some students to become poets, fiction writers, or dramatists. I discuss that direction and pedagogical implications in my recommendations, but first it is necessary to conduct a review of literature that establishes traditional direction for students and teachers of creative writing.

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