For most of my adult life I have been teaching, beginning with 7th and 8th grade, using my degree in Education and Social Studies. After my son was born, I began to teach in Adult Education at night, English as a second language, and Citizenship. I was only 23 years old, and many of the students were even older than my parents. Still, we got along beautifully, since I understood what it means to be a stranger in a new land and how difficult it is to learn not only the language but the new culture.
Teaching creative writing to adults has been a vital part of my life. It is true that “by your students you are taught.” I have taught for UCLA Extension for many years, concentrating on fiction writing and writing for children. A number of my students have become published authors and writing teachers.
In teaching my aim is to know every student, to find out why they are really taking this class, what story ideas are buried deep within and how I can help bring them to fruition. I teach the basics of good writing, focusing on plot, theme and characters, having created my own learning materials. Beyond that, each student and each manuscript is different and special. “It’s your story,” I will say. “I can only help point the way, but you must decide what it means and how it is told.”
I have given many seminars and talks for parents and teachers, among them “Nurturing Creativity, ” “Teaching The Gifted Child,” and “Using Fiction To Promote Values.” On my many school visit I speak not only about good writing, but about the various topics and themes contained in my own novels.
Before a talk I tell myself, “I may never pass this way again; make it relevant. Make it memorable.”