Anyone who has taught literature has encountered the poetry face. For the uninitiated, the poetry face is somewhere between a pout and a frown and expresses the students displeasure with being asked to read into a poem after the student has already loudly confessed that s/he either “hates poetry” or is “bad at it” or more likely, s/he hates poetry and is bad at it. Teachers have all sorts of arguments for why the student should learn to like poetry, and occasionally, those work to change the student’s mind. More often than not, the teacher and student reach a sort of detente, and the student suspends animosity for long enough to give the small concession that at least some poetry is not that bad.
A few summers ago, I had a student who refused to even tolerate poetry. I was teaching a three-week creative writing course for gifted middle school students, and whenever any poem came up, this student brought out her poetry face.
By no means was this a student who was incapable of understanding poetry. On the contrary, this was a student who excelled at nearly everything she dedicated herself to, academically and especially athletically. During activity times, she left the rest of her classmates in her wake, outrunning and outstrategizing all of them. In the midst of games, she thrived, her face glowing with joy.
After that summer, I began to wonder if games might be imported into the creative writing classroom to help those students who are adverse to writing and/or reading poetry. Last summer, I gave it a try, designing and implementing a Role Playing Game (RPG) that presented the ultimate quest of becoming a better writer. Continue reading ‘Games in the writing classroom: designing and teaching an RPG creative writing class’