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Instant Book : Carnegie Learners Conference Creative Writing Day Carnegie Centre (Vancouver, B.C.) 1989

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Instant Book Carnegie Learners Conferenc Creative Writing Day 1989 };,"'~ g~. -··R'~_{~ ., (:.· . ·:·1 i . . /:,i ! -.,.., . • / ! '/ . I i .·,~ .. ·r!·~-~ --r· · i.l ·· r~\· , I . ' 1·' ~:_:__] . il -. .!. lal!IHll-."'"l' • t , . ~ • :-- ? . f ~ f'·, ·. I --/ 41 -,~.--. -·-- ......... -', ' ·1 ·, i.: .. :, ~• •. - .. r • I ',l, _' ,. t .:• ' -,. I I .. , , l ' A yea r ago Sheila Baxter, a volunter tutor , had the courage to accept a challenge that was made in the Learning Centre. The chal lenge was to work with l earne rs using only pencil and paper. Using these t ools and the experiences, feelings and thoughts of her learners, an in formal writing curr iculum was developed. The harvest from this approach was se lf-c onfidenc e , trust, open communication and some oonder fu l writing that was later published in the Carnegie Newsletter. On May 6, 1989 Sheila led a oorkshop at the Learner's Conference that combined her cre at i ve energies with thos e of the sev enty oorkshop participants. The skit she wrote and then perf ormed with Janice Patchell set the stage for a highly interactive session . The ski t portrayed too tutoring sessions : one was negative and a put down of the lear ner, and th e other built up t he lea rner's self image. After the skit , Sheil a asked us to think about our own educations, write about one experience, and share it with the group. This writing and sharing was very powerful and became the conte nt of the Instant Book. All contributions remain unedited. Sheila oould like to th ank those who cont ri but ed and also Pat Landrecht for doing the oord processing and photocopying. 1 I feel that learning has a b ~d reputation, a n d i t gets this reputation f rom school. Boo ~ s a nd sch o olwork a re seen as uncool. I h ad a bad time in sc hool. I hated i t and I did not do very well. But I was alw ays learning th r oughout the whole time I was in school an d e fter. I was always i nterested in a lot of things an d I always found out about t he thi n gs I wa s interested i n . I don't t hink I learned much in scho o l. All they wan t you to do is go through the motions. But they don ' t care o ~ out you if you fall beh i nd; they don't help you get ahead; they just let you drown . Now I'm a tutor and I'm helping two young girls in grade 8. They are both smart girls and bard workers, but they aren't doing well in school. Even when they do their homework their teachers merely express surprise. The fact that they are native gi r ls just might have something to do with their teacher's indifference. Edu ~ ation is something you need to learn in order to live in society. Some of what you learn you always will use and some of what you learn you will always remember. It's important to be able to ask questions; if you can't, then you have to depend, and hope other people will ask the questions you have, or hope that the answer will be given somewhere along the line . I enjoyed school a nd learning things but my relationships weren't that good so learning also became difficult. I gave my teachers problems because I was accident-prone and when they wanted to make things easier, I rebelled because I wanted to be the same as everyone else. I wanted a complete education so I rebelled when pushed toward a secretarial program in grade 10. I got forced to quit by the principal who gave me a choice of quitting on my own or going over my head to my grandparents. I quit, as I didn't want to have my grandparents involved. 4 Just because your a child, doesn't mean you don't have rights. So if someone touches you where you don't want them to, say "No", then tell someone. What he was doing to me was wrong . But he said it would meke me feel better and told me never to say anything to anyone about what he was doing. So I didn't. When I was a little girl Granny was my best friend. She was always there when I needed her . But I couldn't tell her about this, because I felt ashamed. So I didn't. Besides, he told me I would get into trouble if I told my Granny. So I didn't. But I wish I had because I know now that I wouldn't have been in trouble. He would have been . so T'S ALL RIGHT TO TELL SOMEONE by Pat Landrecht--an unedited fre e -write ON WRITING/WRITERS: Wri t ing;"How do I love thee; let me count t he w,:s:ys ." Writing; that medium which is not as visual as film, but which can be more so; that medium with which Ne can stop a moment and examine it in depth, like a photograph; or have a story flow along, scene after scene, as in a movi e . . . ; In writing we can add colors and sounds and smells--all in black and white on a piece of paper, and yet, they a r e a ll the more vibrant for it--because our r_~_!il medium is that of imagination; With words we can transport ourselves across the r o om or across a galaxy; venture into the past, or future, or beyond time altogether into that which could be, or could nev e r be --except in fantasy; With words I can take you with me, or send yo u off on your own private journey of interpretation.With writ in g, I can edit before I speak to you--using words selected for clarity or arnbiguity--on purpose; In literature, I can play god and create characters and determine their fate; I can safely chop the heads off of my enemies- - unless my name is RUSHDIE!; I can safely rneke love to someone I'm too shy to share my feelings with; With writing I can inform, inspire, motivate, deflate, propagandize, expand on, plan , share, or--priv a tely re c ord my thoughts in a journal. Writers are masters of procrastinati o n. The craft th e y love so well is often avoided, b ecau se of inner fears, or because, once writers jump in, t hey may not come up for air for a long time . Any distracti o n will do! ... And who hasn't experienced the "Blank - p~per syndrome"?: Sit at your desk facing your typewriter; take a crisp clean sheet from the pile; neatly insert it into your machine; rachet it just to the right point at the top of the page; stretch your arms and fingers straight out in front of you--like a concert pianist about to dive in t o a masterful work; place your fingers above the appropriate keys , and ... . NOTHING! Your constipated mind does a few contortion s •... NOTHING! Suddenly) you remember your great aunt Bertba whom you haven't phoned in thirty years, and surely you must call h e r now. She must be desperately wondering if you're all right. Or, you've just realized that you're a tad hyungry. You leave your typewriter or computer and launch into a nine-course banquet for one . ... You try a free-write: "It was a dark and stormy night ... "---and you add,--'' ... So I curled up in bed and fell asleep with my favorite book." Then you get up and walk around the room aa y our dog rolls his eyes heavenward and thinks, "Here! 1 1·11 type the damn thing for you--if you'll just stop pacing about the room. You're making me nervous." "I've got itl"--You run back to tapping out about the dream you far off to another crazy world; your typewriter and begin fell into, which took you and--off you go. A famous writer once said that it's difficult for non-writers to understand that when he stands, staring for hours out of a window , that he's very much at work. Writing is, after all, 80% incubation, 5% rou g h-draft, and about 115% editing ..... . .. ..• And this piece I bring to you now is a rough-draft- -an' off-the-cuff' thing written just before I came here, so please forgive me. Writing, and reading writing, are two pleasures all persons should have access to. Th e Learning Centre exists to provide that acce ss -- access to th e joys of literature; access to informati on , by way of its literacy program. An informed person is an empowered person; a writer is an empowering per s on. Writing and readi ng are tools for change. The pen is, " .. , mightie r than the sword." There is a saying that has stayed with me since adolescence and I think it fitting for the Learning Centre; "Give a man a fish and you'll feed him for a day; teach him to fish, and you'll feed him Eor life .~ Writing! ... What a wonderful medium of expression and communication . Tell someone across th e miles how much you miss them, and what your life is for you. The pen is a bridge by which I can c ome into your world, and you can come into mine; it is a brid ge to understanding. The pen truly is mi ght ier than the s wor d. xie xie nin Li Lan Hong Lan d rec ht Pat I was going to write somethi r;[; ab o u t t h e Le a r n i n g Fr o n t b u :, unfortunately as I was abou t to start, and evil scientist shot me with a ray and I have started to get smaller soon, I won't be able to hold the pen 6 I have met three adults who are almost completely illitera t e--all for the same reason--they were left-handed but were forced to . use their right hand when they started school. This meant they lost five to six years of fine motor skill development since switching to the other hand mean t starting over again with coordination. But, even worse than this is the trauma these peoie suffered from having their left hand beaten whenever they att emp ted to use it. No wonder they quickly dropped out of school and feared and hated anything to do with reading and writing since. LEARNING --Getting to know someone --Building trust --Sharing experiences --Growing together --Touching one another's lives. I feel that everyone has the right to be able to read and write--a fundamental right that eq u als the need for food and clothing. Literacy must preclude the need for employment. When I was a child I was a terrible speller but I was great at grammar and reading. I dreaded spelling and the daily dictations. I convinced myself that I would never be able to spell. When I left elementary school I discovered that I could write creatively and I would write all kinds of mini-novels myself and keep daily journals. I also discovered the need to write letters to pen friends. I don't remember ever "becoming" a better speller, but I do know by the time I finished university I was much better. I guess the point I'm making is that I did it myself without honours. I was doing it--through my love of creative writing. As I sit here thinking about what to write, I feel like I'm back at school having just been given a w~iting assignment. I don't know what to write. I think it's got to do with the word "assignments"; so I sit here feeling stupid. I know I've got lots to say since I've got lots to think about. But when I'm told, "It's time to write.", my mind draws a blank. 14 I feel a great nausea. How "~n ~e b e so cut off from the earth beneath our feet and -:;,_;,, 31:l:y above us. Earth c r e at u r e s me e t i n s m a 11 , a r ·;,: , : . · -;: ii a 11 y 1 i g h t e d r o o ms and r a t i o n a 11 y p 1 o t t h e d e s t r u c t :-~ -~- <i, f t h e w o r 1 d ; my w o r 1 d ; my children ' s world. Technology, the vast resours ~s ~l this planet, our greatest minds, conspiring to extermi ,," · .. ,.:;.; a ll life. And what can I do amongst this madness? Wher ~ ~no I go to escape it? How can I save myself or the ones ~ ]o ve? Madmen have seized control; they won't step asid e. They have great and insidious powers of persuasio ~. They will convince you that I am dangerous or insane. And uh o will believe me? Who will stand with me. And is th e ~ ~ still time? 15 I go to school 3 days a week at the First United Church. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I was raised in an Italian foster home where they showed me how to write my name and speak Italian. I was nine years old. Now I am 61 years old and would like to read very much. ( 6 ) I have met three adults who are almost completely illiterate--all for the same reason--they were left-handed but were forced to use their right hand when they started school. This meant they lost five to six years of fine motor skill development since switching to the other hand meant starting over again with coordination. But, even worse than this is the trauma these peole suffered from having their left hand beaten whenever they attempted to use it. No wonder they quickly dropped out of school and feared and hated anything to do with reading and writing since. -\ \ I A PERSONAL REVOLUTION by Suzanne Smythe When I met you I had high expe c-.:i.,.a:tito ns of you and of me I had a vision of how our rela )'.:..::i.0:i1ship would form of what you would write and re ;:'!I of all the revolutionary ideas ~~~ would encounter and take t o heart I t h i n k I w a n t e d f o r yo u w h a t I ,w,a:ill t f o r me - -a tool to change this crazy wo r l~--But after working together a fe & seeks I see that re v o 1 u ti on c an ' t be i il'!lj) ~ :s e d Nor can ideas. You have your struggle and I mi ne. I still have expectations That we don't give up That we use the power of words to love ourselves whateve r those words may be • .• And however we dicide to use them 17 An attempt to communicate a reality that portrays a scene that might show Glatant abnormality in the art of talking I mean, what is it all about? We are attempting to communicate only using the tools of one of the communicators, while the other's (a) sea A- 1 way dialogue o r failure to communicate in a multidimensional world Someone mentioned "dislexia" how is that supposed to tie in? ( ? ) ( ? ) (dy slexia?) 18 Learning is a who le life process. Anybody who would like to come to a new country must learn the new lang u age so that she or he can communicate well with o ther s an d certainly find a better job--and have a better life. 19 Well, going to school was not the best thing that happened to me, as I had a very hard time to learn, so then I quit. But n o w I look back and think I could have don it, but I t hought being dumb, you just don't fit in . Well now I can say that school is it . That grade 12 mean s the world to someone. I haven't reached it just yet but in 2 months I will have that feeling to go back to school, as, when times are tough and I want to fall, I wil l pick myself up when someone talks bad and calls me dumb I will say, "Yah, that's why I have my grade 12." When someone needs a hand and they want to l e arn,! will do the best I can to help them. 20 I see you. I . I know that you are nerv ou s and scared. So am "What do you expect of me?, both of u s are thinking. Perhaps you've brought a lot cf pencila and I've brought a lot of books. But we really don't n ee d them to start do we? There's you and me, and that's a lot already. T~e r t · · t es can c~me 1n 1 sown time. The most important parts of this experience are here now. 21 When I was seventeen, I was pregnant and e x p e c ting my f i rst c hild. Durin g my last month I was furiously an d des p e r a t e ly trying t o c omplete my correspondence course be for e my baby arrived. I was in a home for ''unwed" mothers and wor k ing i n a small c lassroom with other expectant moms. One day, a stud e nt-teacher came to do a week long pra ct icum. Putting aside my correspondence course, I reluct an tl y did the prospective teacher's bidding. Con s equent ly, we began doing English exercises out of a textbook. T h e cre a ti ve aspect came into the scene and I started to like the work. I wrote what I felt was a pretty good p aragraph. Th e n I waited patiently as th e student-teacher went around the room commenting on the student's work- - knowing that she would be pleased with mine. Finally, she stopoped at my desk a nd read my work. I'll never forget her words," You we r e'nt supposed to copy out of a book." a s she dropp e d it on my desk. Being a very shy person I could only answer, "I didn't.'' I didn ' t think she believed me. Today, I am a tutor and I love to teach English -- hopefully better than that s tudent -teacher. 22 WHAT DO I DO? - MARY Nothing c ame into my mind when a time ca me to writ e. Wha t s h o uld I put on pap e r? •.. a poem, mystery , or s t ory (? ) What should I write? ... Or maybe my thoughts, my dr e a ms, my a nge r or my ter r or, or, should it be a love story,or a f riend , o r I c ould wr i te about what I've se e n in the l ast few da y s ; Oh , what should I write t o day, tomorrow, or ev e n y e st erday? What do I do!? 25 Jan i ce Patchell May 8, 1989 I am from St. J ohn New Brunswick . My name is Janice. only have grade one. want to do everything . I want t o le arn Eng li sh and math. I I I like the Learning Cent re . I learn how to read and write good. I do b et ter t han in the other school where I us ed to go. If you go to the Learning Centre, y ou'll learn abo ut everything in the Carnegie Cen tre. ~ re. ESL TUTORING Pat Landrecht I am trying to learn Ch i nese. This one fact has helped me as an ESL tutor becau se I realize how difficult it is to learn a language--especially one which is so very different. What I have found that works is patie nce , repetition, correction and the bre a ki ng down of self-conscious barriers which prevent people from trying. As a teacher , I fe el it is my place to first estab lish trust and rapport. Th i s is the key. Students are often terribly se lf - conscious about trying to speak a n ew language. An in telligent person suddenly feel s like he or she i s in kindergarten again. Suddenly s/he can't express him/herself. People outside treat the stu dent as ifs/he is f e eble- mi nde d when sh e /he feebly attempt to communicat e . If t hese attempts are met with under st anding, patience, assistan ce , and respect, the student fee ls safe to try and can then enjoy her/his little successes. This motivates him/her to go on to bigger successes. I kn ow th is as a teacher--because I am al so a student, and because I care. 24 BLACK EAGLE'S EXPERIENCE ON EDUCATION My name is Stephen Black Eagle. When I was young, many years ago, I was in a fo s t er home, and th e y put me in school to learn Ehglish. Because I was a Plains Indian, I only knew my native tongue--Cree. In 1976 I was kicked out of scho o l for beating up my teacher. 26 TOM LEWIS On the se mean streets Deat h i s casual Like the t o ken gesture s Of socie ty Our existence reinforces their mi ddle class Beliefs Little they know that a Life is a life and Valid as any But why shop here amongst the derelicts To make believe all I s well at the nine O ' clock gun The fact is you can be shot o r raped at any time. When your time is up You may rise to heaven And if God ends th e World It will be because You have bored Him to death With your middle - class Righteousness Give me a break Reep your righteousness To yourself So that I may become Old enough and deaf enough Not to have to Listen 28 To be fair I have had s ome great experien ce s in school. There were some good, fair, human teachers , and some good friends . Often though I was attacked verbally by teachers and punished by the strap, standing in the corner, writing lines, or other tortures. My se lf - confiden c e s uffered and in som e ways I still carry the scars. I am a teacher now. I have a cer tifi cate . I am still wary of schools, though, especially strict, inflexible ones. There should be talking and laughter and tears. You don't need a special place for these things. You don't need a stu dent lounge. There is so much debris in the way of learning for so many. Let's open some windows. Any clas sroo m anywh e re can h a ve la ugh t e r, talking and tears at all time. What do I think about the Leaning Centre Tom was helpful to me. I start to learn, read and write, and I start learn to understand people to care about myself. by Velma Paquette 29 A.G. Education: Is writing a t ,.1·.,0 ,/ t what we have done very educ a ti o nable. What I t h 1-d: J . s it i s possible. We, or all of us, s hould have a tho u ~i t o n educa t ion, but when the tea c hers or counsellors g i Y~ us trouble for the little thing s we do. We get ner • 1;:C1:cc. of wh at we d o n e and we fall or quit wh a t we are doing. ?~ ~ i is n o way to ge t edu c ation. Wha t I think i s to leave rl at person right a l o n e-- not to bothe r him, but to let hi o z~t an education. Help him or her ge t an education--not g~ ve him the displeasuie of not getting the education he n e ad s . 32 (edited ) : VELMA What do I think about Learning Center. When I was 29 years old I was not nice to people and I didn't care a bout myself. I was pregnant at the time. I did not know how to read and write. I had to t a lk to someone and I got introduced to Tom. I wa s scared of him unt i l I got to know him. He understood what was wrong wi t h me. I understand what the Learning Center is becaus e I learn t he hard way and I love what learn in the Learning Center. (unedited): What do I think about learning Ceanter. When I was 29 y e ars old th a t was not nice to people and did care about myself. I was pregnant at the time. I did not know hao to re ad and write. I had to talk to someone. until I got introd uc e, to tom. I was scare at him. he understand what was worng about me. I un der stand what learning Cearnter is because I learn hard way And I love what lea r n in learning Cearnter. 30 SHEILA BAXTER Be gentle to those you t each You hold th e ir literacies in your hand So repea t and repeat a sound or wo rd Fo r as long as it takes a learne r to learn Is how long you must teach. 3 IT DOESN'T COME ON A SILVER PLATTER by Margaret Some p e ople say "you inspire me", gran t ed, but you see t he things that I do ar e be ca us e I like to do those th in gs such as sports where I get to meet o fth e people and go to other places I 've alway s wanted to make a difference in the wor ld , lik e helping other peopl e . So yo u s ee it 's really not me it's how you feel f ro m the inside how you fe el about yourself My.self, I want the world. But in order for me to accomplish this, I first have to prove to myself that I deserve the world. Some poople don't understand that. They feel that th ings s hould come on a Silver Platt er . But hey, l et ' 's ge t real here ... nothing comes easy or c heap, you have t o work to get what you want, build y o ur Empire, but be happy b u ilding this Empire ... , but also remember the people that helped you get there. You see a lo t of peoople forget that they started from .scratch, don ' t let that pers o n be you. 31 Mary Glen ON EDUCATION My personal philosophy is that p eople will be happ i er and more content with themselve s i f they try to fulfil the potential of their abilitie s . To do this they must have kno wledge of themselves, of their experiences, abilities and limitations; they should s e ek to test these limitations as ofte n as they can. Yet, to be 'educated', self-knowledge is not enough; one should also seek to learn about others and to communicate with them. 33 ANITA STEVENS--DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE POET CREATION I work very hard as a poet to express my thoughts, feelings, observations and experiences on paper. Much time and thought goes into my writing. Each letter, capitalized or not, each word, the positioning of each word on a page, ea c h space, punctuation; all of these are involved in a deci s ion -making process to give form and substance to each poem. When, after all the time , thought and effort, a poem has been published, to see that body of work, that creation changed without being consulted can be greatly distressing. What would have been the outcome if Einstein's work had be e n changed without consulting him: What of Madam Currie ' s work? Beethoven's fifth Symphony? The Declaration of Independence? The Charter of Rights? Henry Moore's magnificent sculptures? A body of work so carefully, lovingly, painstakingly and thoughtfully prepared must be respected. *(Please no~e.: There are a few drawings to go into the instant book. They are located in the file of originals/manuscript . )--Pat Landrecht The UBC Library and UBC Learning Exchange would like to thank the following participant for her contributions to digitizing this community-generated document: Brookes Bayfield This community-generated work was digitized and deposited to cIRcle, UBC's open access digital repository, as part of the Digitizing Community Memories project of the Making Research Accessible in the Downtown Eastside initiative (MRAi). In collaboration with the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library, the project provided training and support for community members in the Downtown Eastside to digitize and make openly available community-generated materials.  This project aimed to increase access to historic Carnegie Centre publications and preserve these unique materials for years to come.  For more information on this project and the UBC Learning Exchange, please visit learningexchange.ubc.ca  September 13, 2017 


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