My philosophies regarding the teaching of writing are these: that the gateway to the unconscious must be opened, through habit and practice, in the production of creative material, or the writing cannot succeed. As a mentor, I ask students to describe the actual process that goes on in the writing of a story (or novel), and specifically how the story or novel idea came to be, how it germinated. Often stories succeed or fail when they are conceived in the rational part of the mind, or when the rational mind is too soon engaged.
I encourage students to risk themselves in their work, to be bold, for only in the act of risk can there be growth. The two years in an MFA program is in and of itself a permission slip, perhaps the one time they've been afforded to place writing in the center of their lives, and therefore students should use this time to try as many different styles as possible. In this way it is also important that they be exposed to many different types of writing, both contemporary and from the canon. In this way they are exposed to the many ways other writers approach the craft. What matters, I always tell students, is what has been gained in the process of taking risks.