I’ve been reading Pat Schneider’s book, Writing Alone and With Others. Like most other books on the topic of writing and creativity, it addresses the redressing of the injury done by bad teachers. She goes a step further to list qualities and methods of excellent teachers – including humility and kindness! For more, check out her book, and/or visit her online: www.patschneider.com. She is fabulous.
She also makes the point that we all have to suffer some bad teachers, and that we have much to learn from them, too: what not to do. Interesting indeed…
Eight Steps To Leading A Memorably Awful Writing and Performance Workshop
1. Make little to no initial gestures at establishing a safe, supportive atmosphere, while requiring that participants make themselves vulnerable. Imply that failure to step up to the Creative Risk plate indicates cowardice, an unwillingness to fully commit to Art, or a lack of depth. (Note: doling out ego strokes to a few select workshop participants runs no risk of generating a sense of safety throughout the group; go for it!)
2. Make generalizations about participants’ work, despite your unfamiliarity with it.
3. Here’s a no-brainer: offer unconstructive criticism, i.e., damning and vague – possibly even humiliating. If you offer positive comments, keep them nonspecific. (“That was…good…” is great.)
4. Allot plenty of time for monologuing on your personal strengths as a performer, your own creative process – you can even make reference to your sex life if you like. It’s your workshop!
5. Recommend that performers medicate stage fright with alcohol.
6. Express strongly felt ideas and grand-sounding concepts while remaining hazy about actual details.
7. Do not, at any time during or afterwards, solicit feedback on your approach or methods. If people are upset, it’s only because they’ve been challenged and provoked.
8. Teach and direct from a place of bitterness and burnout.