Jane McKie wins the Ian Campbell Award for Teaching in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
She reflects on what the award means, particularly during a time of crisis, and on our very special community of Creative Writing students.
Dr Jane McKie, a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), has won the Ian Campbell Award for Teaching in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in the annual Edinburgh University Students’ Association Teaching Awards.
Presented with the Award remotely, as part of a ceremony streamed on Facebook during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jane tells us that she was “absolutely bowled over! It has been a strange and difficult few months to negotiate - both within and outwith the University - and I have been so impressed with the patience and resilience of our students, and their willingness to support not just each other but staff too.”
Speaking about the Creative Writing students who nominated her, Jane says “It is an honour to teach them all. We have quite a close knit community in Creative Writing, despite having 52 students on the MSc this year, and this holds true across the years and at all levels – undergraduate, masters and doctoral.”
“Teaching creative disciplines is an intense but highly rewarding process, and one that has helped me develop my own writing and pedagogy – through receptivity to critical voices, and through embedding sensitive and, sometimes playful, engagement with an eclectic range of texts. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to work with our stellar students and staff in LLC.”
Building trust and confidence
Voted for and judged by students, the Teaching Awards recognise staff who’ve made a positive impact on students' learning experiences at the University of Edinburgh. Open to teachers across the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Ian Campbell Award is a significant accolade.
Jane was nominated for her “unwavering commitment towards her students, her approachability and passion for teaching”. The citation continues “Jane is a credit to the LLC, she always makes her own classes as engaging and insightful as possible, but where she particularly stands out - is in her encouraging nature and her ability to instil self confidence in her students’ own abilities."
Asked about her approach, Jane says “There is something about sharing your creative writing that requires a significant level of trust, and the building of that trust goes hand in hand with the building of confidence; it really is at the heart of what we do.”
“In reading and giving careful feedback to students, we are always sensitive to the intentions behind the piece, and to the style of the writer. Our aim is never to produce identikit writers, but to help each individual piece become, in a sense, its ‘best’ self through constructive criticism that is founded on dialogue between teacher and student (and, in the case of workshops, between peers too). We also endeavour not to neglect the reading of exciting poems and fiction as the best kind of stimulus, and we build in plenty of opportunities to push the boundaries and experiment a bit!”
Are you interested in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh?
Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, our one-year, full-time taught masters programme is tailored towards your practice in either fiction or poetry. Highlights include our annual industry event, The Business, and lots of opportunities to share your work, including ‘From Arthur’s Seat’ and a range of writing awards.
There is something about sharing your creative writing that requires a significant level of trust, and the building of that trust goes hand in hand with the building of confidence; it really is at the heart of what we do.