Monday, January 12, 2009

Creative Writing in Germany

Over the weekend I did an interview for the university radio station about my creative writing class. Creative writing is not, I'm told, usually a part of German education, not even at the primary or high-school level. The emphasis is, instead, on writing essays and other non-fiction, non-poetry forms. This is why only one of my students had ever written a short story before. Leipzig is one of the few universities to offer any courses in creative writing.

The student interviewer asked me if I thought the "skills" learned in my class would "be of any use to students later, since probably they will not become writers of fiction." It's an interesting question. Underlying it is the assumption that the only purpose of a university education is to acquire useful skills. I disagreed with that. Another purpose is to broaden the mind, to deepen both the range of experiences one has and the range of things one can respond to intelligently. Learning about point of view, dramatization, character development can make one a better reader. Reading and writing SF opens the door to speculation about future technology as experienced in very human terms. And creativity in the area of writing may encourage creative thinking in other areas. Even if it doesn't, it still seems to me a valuable endeavor to try at least once.

Not to mention that Sf is fun.

5 comments:

Daniel said...

Thank you for posting that. I get your posts sent to my inbox (from the RSS feed), and I save some of them. I like this one the best so far because it gives me motivation to ignore a few minor obstacles, so that I can keep doing what I enjoy (writing SF, among others). Have a great day!

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Well-spoken, Nancy. I couldn't agree more. And =sure=, sf should be fun! I hope all your new fictioneers remember to evoke what entranced all of us at age 10*--the sense of wonder.

*Hey, I started late.

Steven Francis Murphy said...

The skills are useful if you want to be a history teacher.

Respects,
S. F. Murphy
On the Outer Marches

A.R.Yngve said...

Language and writing skills are useful because language and writing are essential components of our common humanity.

Remove writing and speech, and civilization evaporates overnight.

Since these skills are not inherited through our DNA, they must be taught manually to each new generation.

The purpose of writing classes is to preserve humanity.

(Pow!)

Mark said...

One of my engineering profs sould mark off for bad grammar and spelling. He would say "Engineers who can't communicate won't engineer."

Other than that, I've found that while being educated certainly won't guarantee wealth and happiness, it tends to make for a more interesting and enjoyable person.