What Do Teachers Think?



I have never taken a course on Creative Writing.  If I ever do, then I will wonder what the teacher, a writer, thinks about the students.

I am reading And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut, a Life, by Charles J. Shields.

In the Summer of 1965, the University of Iowa offered Kurt Vonnegut a teaching job at its Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  He would be the writer-in-residence.

Vonnegut was not sure whether he should take this job.  His friend, Miller Harris, wrote:

“For Christ’s sake go, knowing that your classes will be peopled by meatheads.  Some of them will be pretty girls, young and fresh looking and pretty, and will fall in love with you.  But meatheads still . . . Wothehell—you might get some funny material out of their bad papers.”  (ibid. p. 7)

Can you believe what Miller Harris was saying?  He called writing students meatheads, and was telling Vonnegut to take the position because he could get laid and steal material.

Is this a typical attitude writing teachers have about the people who take writing courses?  What about actors who teach acting and artists who teach art?  How do they regard the people who take their courses?

Vonnegut ended up taking the job.  His writing career was not going well, and he needed the money.

Over the years, some of the “meatheads” who attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop were John Irving, Gail Godwin, W.P. Kinsella, Jane Smiley, and Clark Blaise to name a few.






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I am Minnie and Chic's son.