Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Positive Side of Feedback

I had my first stint as a volunteer Inspirator for 916 Ink yesterday. Say what, you say? I don't blame you. Let me explain.

For my MFA, I need to do what they call a Field Study Project. Field Study Projects take many shapes and forms, but need to meet three criteria (criterion?) : 1) the education of literary artists, 2) community service or engagement, 3) the pursuit of social justice. People do all kinds of things.Set up reading series. Interview groups of people and help them set up blogs. I can't even remember some of the other examples.

I am not that creative. I thought about the things that matter to me and what would be geographically advantageous and Googled "literacy and Sacramento" and found this gem of an organization that is using creative writing to boost literacy in Sacramento.

I emailed them and met with them and, frankly, they are super mega awesome fun. I went to their volunteer bootcamp and will be helping out at one 12 week session with the idea that I'll be able to run my own 12 week session at a school in the Spring.

So this is a really long roundabout way to get here. We were talked about criticism yesterday. This group uses a method called the Amherst Writers and Artists Method. It's all about acceptance and praise. Through the first 8 weeks of the program, there is no negative feedback. It's all about what's right with a kid's writing and what's strong about it. I know it was only the first day, but you should see the looks on these kids' faces when they share something and everyone tells them the things that were good about it. I think I saw some of them literally get taller.

Eventually, we will talk about revision, but from what I've read, the method is still focused on talking about what is good in a piece and how to get more of it in there.

I know it can't be that way in the big bad world, but it was a nice little place to live in for an afternoon and I'm looking forward to going back next week.


Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen - you are my new hero!

Anonymous said...

That sounds so amazing. You must feel taller too!

Eileen said...

Aw, shucks, folks. Actually, the part I'm looking forward to is at the end of the program. They publish a book with each kids' work in it and have a release party. I've seen photos. The kids are just beaming.

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