Getting to the “Click”: Teaching the MFA at Bennington

Sven Birkerts in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

Teaching writing, unlike most other kinds of teaching, is an intervention, closer to therapy than to any transmissible instruction. But with all the fussing about craft — anyone who teaches has a personal punch-list — we almost never hear about or get close to the real business, the meld. Maybe because each teacher is different and each interaction draws on a unique set of human variables.

Let me start at the beginning. Bennington MFA: the residency

Day one. The residency begins: greetings all around, the hors d’oeuvres and the better wine laid out in the big cafeteria space. Reminders have been posted and emailed that the first workshop starts tomorrow at one o’clock in the Barn. But really, the whole business has begun already. Because, of course, the student-teacher assignments have been made, and the first workshop packets have been sent to everyone, and it’s a good bet that everyone has read everything in order to suss out the field. Most students have surely Googled their instructor.

More here.