Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Atwood on teaching writing in the North

Thanks to the always interesting MoorishGirl blog, I came across this article by Margaret Atwood in Sunday’s Washington Post. Atwood talks about her experiences last summer teaching writing in a two-week camp for young Inuit women. Her description of the camp on Southhampton Island, an “island is as large as Switzerland and has one settlement, which is home to fewer than a thousand people” is fascinating. Even more interesting, though, is the question that emerges for Atwood as a way to connect writing with the forms of traditional knowledge the women are learning at the camp:

Sheree [Fitch] and I, the writing instructors, faced a difficult task. Sheree told me these women might be afraid of writing because of negative experiences at school or they just might not see the use of doing it at all. We also knew that the standard approach for college courses — plumbing the depths of the inner you and so forth — would not be very effective in a culture that places sharing well above self-regard. But this sewing question — “Who’s it for?” — gave us a way in.

During our first session, we said that writing, like sewing, took one thing and made it into another; and that writing, like sewing, was always for someone, even if that someone was yourself in the future. Writing was a way of sending your voice to someone you might never meet.

The Post website also indicates that Margaret Atwood will be online on the Post website tomorrow (Feb 14th) at 3pm to answer questions about this project and her work. Further details can be found here. Sounds like it will be a great discussion!

1 comment

1 John P. { 09.22.08 at 10:16 am }

Bloggers are only as powerful as their readers, which is why it is important for everyone to join together 🙂