Jyoti Guptara teaches creative writing at College of Education St Gallen

Jyoti Guptara teaches creative writing at College of Education St Gallen

Last weekend, GCSP novelist-in-residence Jyoti Guptara spoke and taught at the Pädagogische Hochschule St. Gallen (PHSG). The British-Indian author, whose first book became a bestseller at the age of eighteen, was invited to a teacher training conference under the heading “Creativity – Learning for Tomorrow”. (See the Geneva Centre for Security Policy writeup on Jyoti’s event here.)

The topic was introduced with a skit illustrating the importance of innovation in education. As an example of discovering creative talent at schools, the act incorporated Guptara reading an excerpt from his first novel. (The author dropped out of school at the age of 15 to become one of the world’s youngest full-time writers.) The convention, co-organised by the St. Gallen Department of Education and the colleges of education in St. Gallen and Graubünden, drew together around 200 teaching professionals from across eastern Switzerland who wanted to explore how to encourage gifted students in the Swiss school system.

“The importance of storytelling skills is only going to grow,” Guptara concluded the segment on conveying context and coherence in an increasingly complex world. “Most opinions are formed by emotions, not facts. Story is a structure that delivers emotional impact. Everyone needs to know how to influence and inspire people. Not to mention the increasing demand for divergent thinking.”

The author held two rounds of seminars, combining story theory with tips on nurturing talent, developing new ideas, and how to be heard in a world of sensory overload. Finally, Jyoti Guptara joined artist Ruedy Schwyn in delivering some closing remarks from an interdisciplinary perspective.

After trying their own hand, the teachers were keen to use Guptara’s exercises themselves to promote and teach creative writing.