Writing 101, part 1

Last night we held our first of four writing classes with the Austin Underground Graduate School. I had 17 students show up. It was, as usual, difficult to tell if they liked the activities, or if they were getting what they expected, or if they would return next week. Nobody walked out, though, so that’s a plus?

I had them read some Nietzsche and some Richard Dawkins (two excerpts about truth and/vs science) and then respond with a page of writing about whether or not there exists an objective reality—and if so, how can we access it and how can/should we harness it. Then I gave them some rules and they edited their writing to avoid redundancies and cliches.

The feedback on the readings was mixed, and I didn’t read anyone’s pages so I don’t even know if the writing and editing were productive. I didn’t want to scare anyone off by having them submit their words for review. But next week I’ll have them turn in some pieces as they leave, for me to edit and comment on.

Why am I teaching the class? Well I think we all need to communicate better. One guy said he hoped to learn how to talk to his father about politics. I don’t know if this class can help him, but that’s not a bad goal to start with.

And I don’t mean “convince” when I write “communicate better.”


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