Students writing from camp
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
ST. CLOUD, Minn. - Required materials for one St. Cloud State University course include a writers’ guide, books of prose and poetry, three notebooks, a three-ring binder, and “a sleeping bag and toiletries.” That’s because students taking English 191: Introduction to Rhetorical and Analytical Writing this fall will be learning and using the principles of composition during a weekend “at camp.”
Instructor Matthew Spring, English, has partnered with Camphill Village Minnesota, a community of 60 people of all abilities, to give his students an intensive weekend of community service and companionship Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 8-9.
“One way to learn how to write is to learn how to listen,” Spring told students in outlining his objectives for the course. “A writer should be concerned with finding the voices which have been silenced and working to help those individuals regain their own voice.” His students will learn writing skills by interacting with residents of Camphill, located on a 470-acre biodynamic farm north of Sauk Centre in Central Minnesota. Residents live in family settings in seven homes and share in the responsibilities of life in the community.
Spring’s objective as an educator is to bring to life, with incorporation of this service-learning element, the practice of composition, the poetry of Robert Frost, and the prose of Loren Eiseley. During the semester students will write to Camphill residents about themselves and their work in the classroom. During their weekend at camp, they will interview and create written profiles for residents. Another assignment will be to write a memoir connecting the poetry of Robert Frost to a moment during the weekend in which something extraordinary happened.
Spring is one of more than 45 SCSU faculty members who are including a service-learning component in their courses. Their intention is to turn students into active learners by supporting what they are studying in the classroom with volunteer work in the community.
According to Eveily Freeman, service-learning coordinator for SCSU, a service-learning project can enrich a student’s college experience. “Service-learning increases a student’s caring for the people and places around them,” Freeman has said. “They learn a lot from engaging with people who are different from what they are.” Freeman is the liaison between faculty who want to include service-learning in their courses and the community-based organizations that need the assistance. She can be reached at 320-308-3898.
SCSU is located 70 miles northwest of the Twin Cities along the oak-crowned banks of the Mississippi River. To prepare students for high-demand employment areas, the university offers more than 175 majors, minors and pre-professional programs in Business, Education, Fine Arts & Humanities, Science & Engineering, and Social Sciences and 50 master’s degrees through the School of Graduate Studies.