How to Teach Compassion
through Creative Writing
By Nancy Spektor
A course of creative writing offers a lot of possibilities. Many students doubt the necessity of taking this course, thus making a huge mistake and missing a great opportunity to acquire writing skills.
Creative writing can benefit your career in many ways, as it helps you expand your vocabulary, learn how to think creatively and critically, but more importantly, it teaches you to explore your emotions and the emotions of others.
Teachers of creating writing often highlight learning how to be compassionate as one of the key benefits of this course. But how can you teach compassion through creative writing? What makes it possible?
Let’s take a look at some of the techniques.
Technique #1: Letting students write what they want
This technique is primarily used in creative writing to help students explore their writing abilities. Letting students choose their own creative means of expression is beneficial in many ways, including helping them understand the nature of empathy and self-compassion.
Using this technique, students can be introduced to a notion of a stream of consciousness, which is a powerful tool to explore your visual, auditory, associative and physical impressions. Students can be given a task to observe their peers and write down everything they see and feel about a particular person and then find a reason why this person may behave in such way.
However, students shouldn’t be critical. The aim of such task is to teach the understanding of other people’s actions and emotions. This will help the students find out how they would behave in a particular situation and compare their emotions to the feelings of their peers.
Technique #2: Writing with passion and reviewing with compassion
The second technique involves explaining to the students that they shouldn’t see about creating writing as something compulsory. When they’re writing a draft of a task, they shouldn’t feel like they are burdened with it. Instead, they should let their thoughts flow.
After the drafts are written, students need to review them with compassion, meaning that they should read their works with in-depth analysis of their own emotions. You can also let the students share their works with their peers and let others review and analyze. This way you’ll teach compassion to others.
Passionate writing and compassionate reviewing is a technique that any essay writer knows how to use. Creative writing is all about educating yourself about your emotions and emotions experienced by others.
Technique #3: Sharing comments about writing
As two previous techniques were mostly connected with sharing the thoughts on a paper and then submitting them to the teacher, this one involves oral analysis. This can be a form of a home task, for example:
- let the students share their work with their peers;
- ask the students to read and review the works of the classmates at home;
- ask them to present their analysis in class, keeping the author of the work anonymous.
Nothing is more important than teaching compassion, and with the help of this technique, a teacher of creative writing will be able to explain to the students how to be compassionate towards their peers. Anonymity will help the students not to get embarrassed in front of the whole classroom, and for the reviewers, it will help to learn how to cherish the emotions of other people.
Technique #4: Showing compassion through creative means
Creative writing involves teaching how to use various expressive means and stylistic devices, like metaphors, similes, and personifications. But creative writing is also about using these devices with sophistication and grace.
Let the students write an essay about the most memorable moment of their life, using creative means as a way to express their emotions about a particular episode. Comparisons, similes, and metaphors should be the basis of their description, but their writing should not be overloaded with them. Figurative language adds dimension and color to writing, and stylistic devices can be the perfect way to express emotions and cultivate compassion.
Technique #5: Teach the student, not the skill
For sure, all the students in your class are united by the stance that they all want to learn everything about creative writing. But the key to the success of this course is teaching each student individually. If one of the purposes of this course is to teach compassion, then it is crucial to value the creativity of each particular student.
Compassion, altruism, and respect should always be the primary targets of education. Any instruction should involve teaching these types of attitude, as education is targeted at bringing up an individual that will be respectful towards the other members of the society.
Creative writing offers a lot of great ways to teach compassion to the students and help them understand the importance of cherishing the emotions of other people. Using these techniques, teachers can explain the importance of sympathy and how great the world of human emotions is.