The University of Iowa

“I Owe It All To”: Stories of Learning and Teaching

Weekend July 25 to July 26 2020

How did you learn how to grow a garden, play the piano, knit a sweater, bat a ball, program a computer, solve an equation, diagram a sentence, or converse in Italian? Who taught, guided, mentored, or coached you? How would you describe your mentors’ personalities and teaching styles? To what extent did they encourage you? To what extent would some of them qualify as “difficult people”? What else did you learn from them besides what they were teaching? How would you describe the twists and turns of your learning “curves” in acquiring those skills and subject matters?


And how have you yourself taught, guided, mentored, or coached others? In what skills and subjects? What is your style of teaching those skills or subjects? How have the recipients of your guidance responded to that style? To what extent have any of your students, mentees, or children been “difficult learners”? How did you adjust your teaching styles to their personalities and learning styles? How would you describe the twists and turns of their learning curves as well as your curves in learning to teach them? What did you learn from them?

We’ll be generating new writing by choosing one or two teaching and learning experiences and writing non-fiction stories of ourselves as learners and teachers, depicting ourselves and our teachers or students as characters in one prompted exercise, as well as describing through scenes and dialogue our possibly fraught learning or teaching trajectories in another prompted exercise. Then we’ll integrate the two pieces of writing. We’ll read vividly portrayed accounts of teaching and learning as models and inspiration. We’ll workshop the exercises and drafts of stories you write. You can also bring a short teaching or learning piece you’ve previously written for feedback from peers and instructor. This workshop is intended for writers of any level of experience.


In this workshop, we will generate new writing through exercises and assignments; critique writing you bring from home; provide feedback on writing you produce in our weekend.