Creative Writing is a skill set that is best imparted in a group. Within the cohort, the participants are encouraged to write, read, ideate, brainstorm, enact roles and develop content for their stories and write-ups. They are made to interact and share, quiz each other with questions that they have prepared. They are taught to speak uninhibited, give and take feedback from peers from a point of view of improvising their and their peers’ work. Their response and understanding are appreciated and valued which encourages them to evaluate every detail intricately and develop and solution-oriented approach to each problem that comes their way. Gradually, they learn to understand issues clearly and develop analytical tools to help resolve conflicts effectively. The learning that comes out of this experiential, hands-on training, shapes young minds to be interactive, responsive, and responsible.
1. CELEBRATING UNIQUENESS THROUGH CREATIVE WRITING
Each child has a unique perspective and expression. More often than not, children may not verbalize their ideas due to a lack of confidence and the fear of making a mistake and being ridiculed. However, each child must be celebrated for their uniqueness, More importantly, they must be encouraged and appreciated about being that way and be given a platform where they are able to express themselves freely. In the creative writing classes, they are encouraged to bring their uniqueness to the fore and learn to give it expression. No one is expected to fit into a set format. Having said that, the children are encouraged to respect the uniqueness of another. They try to understand the point of view and perception of another, even if they do not agree with it. This helps them to be sensitive and caring. They are made to give and receive feedback in the sessions about their peers’ and their own work- written and oral.
2. OBSERVING INTRICATE DETAILS OF THE ENVIRONMENT
Any setting or locale needs to be studied in fine detail to be able to express its appeal with a writer’s flair. Thus the students are taught to observe and study the place closely. They need to make notes of what they see physically and the intangible aura of a place they see. If they write about a location that is in the past they need to dig into history to find out how things may have been then, how society may have acted out and how the characters may have behaved. This allows them to develop unique perspectives, observe closely, and appreciate the world they live in. It makes them aware individuals about their surroundings and sensitizes them about the history and reinforces the fact that their environment is precious.
3. TAKING CRITICISM CONSTRUCTIVELY IN CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES
When we nurture an environment where giving and taking feedback is essential and welcome, it promotes a feeling of camaraderie. Each participant tries to listen carefully to the other’s work and gives constructive feedback after analyzing it from his point of view. The constructive criticism helps the writer make improvisations. Everyone becomes more receptive and open to taking feedback and works to find solutions. The interaction creates bonding and shared learning. Instead of developing an environment of cutthroat competition, the participants are encouraged to hone their own potential and bring out their best while assisting others to do the same.
4. GROUP LEARNING IN CREATIVE WRITING CLASSES
This format of learning promotes a strong bonding amongst the participants. Each tries to help the other understand the problem and find solutions. They are made to quiz each other by preparing their own set of questions on the related topics. When they are given tasks of such responsibility, they learn to not only shoulder the responsibility but also become more caring about how their partners perform.
5. LEARNING TO READ BODY LANGUAGE
Through the creative writing sessions, the students are taught to understand the details of body language and gestures that go hand in hand with certain characters, their emotions, and what is being spoken. They gradually understand human behavior better by constant observation and understanding. Through repeated observation of people, situations, and settings, they learn to understand subtle aspects of human behavior and their environment. When applied to the real world, such knowledge and interpretations can help them evolve into discerning and aware adults.
Students need to write from the point of view of a life that they may never have lived. This helps to increase awareness about the other people who occupy space in the same environment but live a very different life. Understanding life from another point of view which may be thriving or crumbling in different circumstances, and understanding the pain and joy of such a life, makes them compassionate adults.
Certain skills that are taught in creative writing classes equip the children to write about people- emotions, character traits, shortcomings, excellence, etc., without overtly mentioning these traits. This skill set goes a long way in sensitizing the child to another differently-abled life and the challenges that life might face.
We hold seminars and make committees that are responsible for understanding problems that our environment faces. Efforts are made and resources are allocated to address these problems. However, we now need to develop a perspective to find new ways to address these issues before they turn into monstrous problems. We need to nip them in the bud before they cripple our society.
The answer lies in sensitizing young lives about the beauty of their culture, environment, and life around them. We must teach them to empathize with all forms of life, even if differently-abled. They must be given a platform where they have exposure to perspectives and experiences other than their own so that they learn to appreciate diversity. If we dedicatedly do this, starting now, over the next decade, we could start to build an inclusive society right at the grassroots.