Saturday, 6 August 2011

Creative Writing courses - is writing something you can grade?

I've just received the result of my second Open University creative writing course, and I'm celebrating as I managed somehow to achieve a distinction again this year in A363, as well as the one I got last year for A215. Wine has been drunk, congratulations received, smug satisfied smile attached to face, and everyone on the planet informed. I now have my Diploma in Creative Writing and Literature and I'm over halfway towards my Literature degree.

9% of us got the distinction. So, yes, I am proud of that. Yet I also know many of my fellow students were disappointed with the grade they were awarded. Many of these were the students whose work was quirky and original, who explored the boundaries of style and voice, who pushed against the structures and restrictions the course necessarily placed on us. Me? I'm a grade hunter and quite happy to 'play the game' to get what I want. But as creative writing is such a very subjective subject, is it possible to devise a marking system that is fair to all and minimises the personal reaction to the work of the marker? It seems that the solution the OU takes is by structuring the marking in such a way that then penalises those who move out of the expected arena.  It's a problem that effects all marked creative writing courses.

I want to say well done and congratulations to everyone who was on the course - no matter what your grade - it was tough, we worked hard, I learned a lot from you all and value the networks we've built up, and I wish I could do another one next year?

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