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That Class… It Wants Me

I sat in on Joe Janes’ class yesterday (perched on a cloud in the biblioether), and was delighted to see he is continuing his tradition of subverting the dominant paradigm among generations of new librarians. Being among library students also reminded me how much I love the classroom, which if you are even half a teacher forces you to constantly think and learn. To teach is to be a student many times over in new and unexpected ways.

The class also emboldened me to plan the class I want to teach, even as I saw it shift-shaping in my head. Instead of “reading, writing, and research” — which continues to strike me as two separate classes (writing for librarians, and research for writers) — this class would unapogetically focus on writing for librarianship in all its manifest glory, from the humble business letter to writing for advocacy publication, online and print, with special attention paid to my ‘umble theory that in the war of ideas, better writing often wins.

I would teach the fundamentals of creative writing and how to apply them to library writing: scene, image, dialog, metaphor, telling, showing, point of view; the art of revision; habits of effective writers; the possibilities are endless. (I saved all my notes from the MFA program and not long ago finally keyboarded the last of them into Word.)

This class would also feature the Dreaded Workshop, where students would share and critique writing. A good writer has the humility to welcome critique — and to provide constructive but honest criticism to others. But now I’m getting ahead of myself, on a post I am planning about what workshop teaches writers.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be able to teach this class right away — library schools have their fall assignments set — and if I have a new full-time job, I may need to park the class for another year, though I’ll teach bits and pieces of it (not a bad way to build a class). But somehow, sitting in class with Joe’s students yesterday both fixed a problem and pushed me forward.

Anyway, add “draft syllabus, run by trusted friends” to my to-do list for July.

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