Matthew A. Merendo


Teaching Philosophy
(Creative Writing)

As an avid gamer, I’ve often run into the idea of the fog of war. Originally a military term, the fog of war in video games refers to limited sight – you can see clearly only that which is within a certain predetermined amount of space around you. In other words, propinquity determines vision. While an excellent tool to add suspense and strategy to video games, in real life, the fog of war is a menace. It is the root of so many evils, both educational and otherwise: rote thinking, lifeless creations, narrow minds, prejudice and even hate. As teachers, the inability to see beyond our own illumination – and the fear of what lies beyond that circle – is the final boss of our video game.

As such, I aim always to shed light rather than snuff it out. While it is important to see and understand what is most familiar to us, the purpose of education is to expand our comfort zone, to grow both in knowledge and in experience. By encouraging students to explore what is just beyond their vision, I hope to foster curiosity in our world, unexpected thinking, and empathy for that which may seem at first foreign or uncomfortable.

As a teacher of writing, I seek to illuminate through both reading and writing assignments, as well as in-class discussions. If a student feels comfortable writing fiction only from the perspective of a heterosexual female college student, for instance, I challenge her to write from the eyes of an elderly  gay man, perhaps, or a six-year-old boy. My students learn from both the time-honored masters of literary fiction as well as the oft-overlooked kings and queens of genre literature. I shine a spotlight not only on canonized authors but also those who shine quietly from the shadows. By sampling from a wide variety of texts, and by encouraging students to challenge their own limited perspectives, I hope not only to dissipate some of the fog of war around the students but also to give them the necessary skills – flashlights, if you will – to clear it themselves.


Matthew A. Merendo