Monday, September 28, 2015

baking cookies and teaching writing

I love to make cookies. I like to eat them and share them, but mostly I like to make them. How can being a cookie maker make me a better writing teacher?

1. I love how the "product" is so yummy. I love that what I make is fun and good. Other household tasks--doing dishes, for example--might yield a product I need (a clean kitchen) but not necessarily one that I simply enjoy for its own sake.

     As a writing teacher, I need to remember that utility has its value, that we need to learn to write resumes and school writing, but sometimes we need to write what feels like play, something fun that we can share with others, something that is meant to give others pleasure too. Time for dishes, but also time for cookies.

2. I like the process of making cookies. If I make cookies with grandchildren, I get to enjoy the process with them. We talk and laugh as we measure and pour and stir. It is a process to share and have fun doing together. And when we're done, we can be proud of our collaboration. But I like to make cookies alone, too. Then there is time for contemplation. My hands are busy with soothing, familiar tasks--measuring and scooping, stirring and cracking, spooning and sliding--so my mind can relax and think about what really matters.

     As a writing teacher, I need to remember that the process doesn't always have to be the same. Sometimes we write with others; other times by ourselves. We enjoy the process either way. And the process needs to be familiar enough and comfortable enough that the writers feel relaxed and able to enjoy the process if possible. 

3. The final product--a cookie--brings happiness. I don't care who you are, if someone gives you a cookie, you feel happy. You feel loved. Cookies are just little bits of sunshine, and really, can eating just one be bad for anyone? No. And they make us happy.

     This is a little trickier. Not all writing pieces give pleasure and joy to the audience. Some writing makes us think--other writing may make us cry. Some can even make us uncomfortable. But all writing has something to celebrate, something to be happy about. I need to remember to look for the joy in each writing piece and celebrate that aspect, let that aspect bring both the reader and writer joy. 

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