Applied Track in Pedagogy
The Applied Track in Pedagogy is designed to give students the training they need to teach at the college level. Students who wish to undertake it commit to a related internship in semester three and—over the course of the two-year program—participate in four class units that address the essentials of classroom practice:
Pedagogy: Current approaches to teaching composition
Course Design: Planning instruction
Assessment: Assessment and grading
Classroom Management: Issues in management of the college composition classroom
Each unit requires advance reading and writing, and follow-up readings will be assigned for the semester. Students in the Pedagogy Track are also expected to respond to a series of short readings (no more than three per semester) designed to enhance and extend the material covered in the units. This is in addition to the creative work and craft analyses that comprise the usual MFA workload.
Over the course of their four semesters, Pedagogy Track students also analyze and annotate (in their annotated bibliographies) a minimum of two composition textbooks.
As one of the few low-residency programs to offer an Applied Track in Pedagogy at the college level, Solstice will offer an added benefit to MFA students hoping to find work in higher education after graduation.
From recent graduate, Joyce McPherson:
"The pedagogy aspect of this program enriches every other part. I have gained a lot of confidence in teaching since I began this program."
Third-semester students in the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program also have a unique opportunity to pursue an applied-track internship in arts administration and community programming, literacy studies, or publishing as part of their research for the major critical essay. These optional internships enrich their experience, broaden their knowledge, and provide necessary research for the essay due at the end of the semester. Students gain valuable marketable skills that assist in post-MFA job placement, along with contacts in their chosen field.
We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for real cultural change. Below, you will find comments from MFA students and graduates who have opted to do an internship during their third semesters; their work is inspiring to us!
“I had the good fortune to work with Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices editor Lee Hope. She works collaboratively with her staff, assigning and managing operations; along with special projects. I tried my hand at fundraising and even attempted some grassroots advertising for the magazine. It was especially gratifying to be able to share my voice in open discussions with the editorial selection team. My critical writing was seeded and substantiated by participating in this internship. In conjunction, my faculty mentor Sandra Scofield’s abundant support for my internship and writing added the perfect balance.”
“I was excited to do an internship that allowed me to go out into my community and base my critical thesis on a revolutionary writing program — Books of Hope. Books of Hope is based in Somerville, Massachusetts, and offers youth ages 13 to 22 a chance to write, perform, and eventually publish their work. Participants receive a portion of the earnings from sales, and the rest goes back into printing more books.
Because of my internship experience, my critical thesis went from being something I had to do, to something I wanted to do. The actual process of sitting down and writing might be done in solitude, but for me, the inspiration, ideas, and passion come from the communities which I live in, and visit, and the special people who inhabit them.”
Jasen writes about his experience working with Books of Hope on his Web site: www.jasensousa.net
“I started my volunteer work at the Monroe Correctional Complex as my internship project for the Solstice MFA program. Since then, I have worked in two separate units of the prison and probably met upward of fifty different inmates. In our program we teach two things. The first is the concept of the Hero’s Journey, put forth by Joseph Campbell, mythologist, as a way storytellers have told their stories across time and culture. We focus on adapting the material so that each inmate can, if he chooses, tell his story as if he were the hero—an idea that seems counterintuitive to them and to many others. Second, we teach writing—basic storytelling and craft skills.
My commitment to my internship was only for a semester, but over a year later I had yet to stop going to the prison. In the United States there are over 2 million people incarcerated. I acknowledge that many of their crimes were horrible, and I would never want to diminish the suffering of the victims, but to exclude 2 million people from the collective story of a country is, in my opinion, a crime in itself. That is why I chose to do the work at the prison, and why I will continue to do the work for the foreseeable future. I am grateful to the Solstice program for having the foresight to create space for their students to work as writers engaged in their communities, and for encouraging students to seek out the humanity in others.”
Erika posts regularly about her experience teaching inside prison at: www.teachingontheinside.wordpress.com