Friday, October 19, 2018

Insight: Learning from teaching

By Lorraine Glowczak

Instructing others can be one of the best learning tools for everyday life, if you let it. As part of a writing class I teach, I will periodically suggest a few writing prompts. One of my favorite prompts is to have students write an opinion about a subject they feel strongly about. Once that is completed, I then ask them to write about the same subject as if they were another person with an opposing viewpoint.

There is usually a bit of resistance at first, but then the writers amaze me with their ability to compose, with detail, an opposite perspective, (although there is usually a lot of sarcasm involved in their “opposing viewpoint”).

Practicing this writing exercise helps to expand the author’s experiences with the intention of broadening and increasing awareness and observing life from a more multidimensional perspective. It moves the writer from egocentricity (individual as the center of all things) to a more of an us/other person approach to writing, making the poem, novel or essay more interesting to the reader.

I must admit, however, there is a bit of an ulterior motive on my part. I secretly hope that in the practice of considering another point of view, the writer may find that in the differences, a new and better perspective may arise and/or the realization that one’s perspective is not the only valid one.
To keep up the practice, I join the other writers during this writing exercise. In last week’s class, I discovered something about myself as an editor that made me take a closer look at The Windham Eagle’s purpose and mission. That is, “to provide positive and solution-based news.”

In a few past Insights, I have reiterated the paper’s mission, but I have done so without completely encompassing others’ perceptions. In response to recent and local issues facing our community, we’ve received three valid comments/questions that may challenge our mission.

These comments included: “Why didn’t you write about what happened at the Town Council meeting? People need to know what is happening.” “You are not adhering to the rules of journalism,” and “The purpose of a newspaper is to shed light on issues, so people can make informed decisions.”

Since my writing prompt last week, I have reflected upon these well-founded inquiries and how I can still adhere to the newspaper’s mission while touching on subjects that some people have strong opinions about. I have been racking my brain on how to accomplish make a positive out of what may be viewed as a negative.

I’m sorry to announce that I have not quite figured out how to bring two polar opposites together. But I’m determined to find a way.

How? Well, if it is true that you learn through teaching, then maybe I will figure it all out with the help in next week’s writing prompt. Wish me luck!

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