Creative Writing for Critical Thinking
Can creative writing serve as a method to develop critical thinking? Many writing researchers and university lecturers are engaged in various programmes to enhance students’ writing performances and their capacity to reflect and think critically. In this book, I suggest a new approach to creative writing, emphasizing the learning potential inherent in creative writing as a sociocritical method for learning critical metareflection. Researchers and lecturers spend huge amounts of time and energy trying to understand the writing process and to find best practices. Yet the question remains: Why do some students learn a lot and others little when they write to learn? It is a fascinating question indeed, and this book is an invitation to discuss it. My aim is to explore how the narrative imagination may be used for critical thinking purposes, to open up for new insights into the possibilities of creative writing as a method to develop writers’ critical metareflection. In particular, I explore the potential of creative writing in terms of writers’ sense of critical self-reflection and awareness of language as a carrier of cultural beliefs and value ground. The book also attempts to suggest some new ways of interpreting variations in learning outcomes that result from writing. In two case studies, I analyse students’ learning trajectories through the patterns these trajectories leave in the reflection texts that they write. Such patterns may be interpreted as resulting from a negotiation between individual motives and perceptions of identity and motives and objectives found in the context of the learning environment. The negotiations have impacts on the learning outcomes. It turns out that certain ideas about writing and dreams about future identities quite outside of the seminar room exert influences on what writers choose to learn within the academic context. I illustrate some of the ways through which this complex web of circumstances plays out in the book. Readers who ponder about the enigmatic learning processes that are involved in writing will gain, I hope, food for further thought. Is it possible to transfer a creative writing method to any writing course? This is another interesting question addressed in the book. The answer must be yes. There are some very promising possibilities and scopes, although the learning outcomes will vary depending on the context and the learners. Last, but not least, readers who are on the lookout for educational and instructional advice will find some in the final chapter, which addresses pedagogical implications of working with creative writing. Some practical approaches are sketched out, and a few applications are discussed.
The aim of this book is to present a new, sociocritical approach to a methodology for creative writing for critical thinking, emphasizing a social view on learning through writing. The reader is introduced to theoretical as well as practical perspectives on creative writing for critical thinking and results from research where a method was tried in two different educational settings. This volume is based on an in-depth case study where writing was used as a method for working with critical thinking within a creative writing course. To test the potential of the method outside of the original setting, it was tested in an academic writing course, with a similar assignment but designed for one seminar discussion. The main data is comprised of student texts, which are analysed in order to increase insights into students’ thoughts about what it means to work with expressive writing to practise critical thinking. Thus, an empirical research aim is to try out a writing assignment built on a creative writing method and then to apply a text-analytical model to describe the learning outcomes that result when two perspectives, that of the students and that of the university, meet, expressed in the students’ texts. Thus, the text-analytical model is tested on textual data, which is a theoretical research aim discussed in the book.
The results of the studies give rise to ideas about pedagogical approaches to creative writing and to approaches of textual analysis for tracing signs of learning in students’ texts. The book explains how learning through writing can be theorized as a contextualized identification process and how notions of identity interact with learning, embedded in the specific context in which the identities are staged. Finally, the book discusses some practical implications of working with creative writing in a sociocritical paradigm, aimed at enhancing students’ critical thinking skills. The writing pedagogy presented is based on sociocultural writing theory, which introduces methods for creative writing that combine narrative imagination with critical metareflection. In a writing context, new possibilities for selfhood emerge for writers, possibilities that open up new ways of thinking critically, as an outcome of the growth and changes that result from the identification processes involved in learning through writing