Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Why do we write?

Pleased to say that InTuition, the quarterly magazine of the Institute for Learning, has run my response in its Ask the Experts feature. In the autumn edition a college art lecturer said students asked 'why do we draw?' And thinking of our own students I was moved to respond: creative writing students don't ask 'why do we write?' except when groaning over procastination. But I know that they write for the same reason students draw. To draw, to write, to make, is to capture something. It is about process, not end product -- except for commercial art or copywriting or journalism.

This art-making may express some aspect of the inner self the artist didn't even know was there. The satisfaction is in the process of discovery. The result displays the maker's voice, a unique angle on the world.

Another reason people make art is to assuage the essential loneliness of being human -- if I reach out in paint or words and you respond to my work, we have shared something, we have communicated, even if we never meet. Maybe only the artists themselves know why they create, and that knowledge can't be put into words. Why do we draw? Never mind. If we are impelled, we just do it.

Thanks to IfL for airing my views. It is the organisation all FE teachers have to register with these days as part of required professionalization (word??!!) of our kind of teaching. See my other IfL blog entries (gov't tutor registration) for more info and links. The current query asks how 'value added' works...

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