1010 AND 1020 – NUMBERS WORTH REMEMBERING
For those unaccustomed to the nomenclature of higher education, 1010
and 1020 refer to the first and second semester writing courses
required of all NEC students. In the academic world, teaching
introductory writing courses can be challenging for even the most
seasoned faculty members. Students approach first year writing with a
wide range of skills, varying levels of interest in the art form, and
often a fair amount of trepidation about the process. However, the
writing faculty at NEC present a very different picture. Professor
Donovan describes the program by saying, “I really do think we are
unique at NEC in having the two first-year writing courses taught by a
department composed entirely of faculty who are practicing and
publishing writers. What this means is that our students have the
opportunity of working with faculty who approach the teaching of
writing as writers; we are engaged in the very same process we ask our
students to embrace.” The result is an intensive and collaborative
experience that inspires both faculty and students.
Professor MacNeil explains, “Writing 1010 and 1020 are a rite of passage for our students. We often hear them say that if they can get through these courses, they can get through anything. As a faculty, we are supportive and understanding of the variety of learning styles that we encounter. At the same time, this is a demanding program and one that sets the standard for the way our students are expected to engage in the academic community.”
Professor Donovan’s approach to teaching is about helping her students find their own creative voice and supporting them through that process. She makes a differentiation between skills that are often lumped together and sees students not only as individuals, but as thinkers, readers, writers, and scholars. The process of writing, for her, is one of discovery. As she explains, “I empathize with my students’ fear of the empty page but I ask them to acknowledge fear as a sign that we are on a threshold; we move forward because whatever the risks of activity, we recognize them as much less deadly than the risks of passivity.”
Ultimately, students have the last word. As a final project, they are asked to write a letter to the next wave of students who will take the College’s writing courses. According to NEC’s faculty, these letters are more than helpful advice on how to survive Writing 1010 and 1020. They often contain proud statements on all that students have accomplished and, when compared to early assignments, describe tremendous gains in confidence and proficiency as writers.
Testament to the strength of the writing program at NEC is sophomore theatre major Emma Laing from Massachusetts. Her first collection of poems, A Beautiful Hallucination, was recently published by Outskirts Press and features nearly 60 works touching on themes of love, hate, joy, and madness. She is described as an “observant author who sees far beyond the obvious.” Recent graduate Gail “Bunny” McLeod and co-author Patrick ‘GB’ Harrison have written a book, Who Says Kids Can’t Fight Global Warming, that offers practical advice for young people looking to become involved in the fight against climate change.
This year, the Writing Department faculty initiated a new series for the spring semester, Conversations with Writers. Each of the seven faculty members will schedule an evening to discuss their work and the process by which they write. The series has been popular with students and is one more example of the collaborative interaction between faculty and students.