Saturday, October 31, 2009

Practical applications

Deanna made me pinpoint exactly what I don't like about school. The formalized structure. As I work through my courses I'm grateful community college lets me cut to the chase. A four year degree would be more profitable, but I don't see the point.

Education is a journey, a lust and a passion. I want to know why and how. The other day, one of the divas over on RD talked about her creative writing class. Her professor gave the class an assignment and the class decided to write a sex scene.

It made her uncomfortable and made me think. Why did the class decide on the assignment? Where was the teacher? How qualified was the teacher anyway, or was it a retread of the "hero's journey", a bunch of archetypes and writing prompts?

Was there an explanation--how and why writing a sex scene out of context would improve your writing?

After the dust settled, the teacher gave the woman a chance to opt out and she said it was no longer an issue because it'd been resolved, but I'd have been right there with "why?" Why are you teaching this? What practical application does it have? Why are you using "this" technique over that technique and why am I paying money so you can hand me a textbook of non-specific exercises designed by committee?

It's like crit-groups. Everyone thinks you should have one. But according to the RWA lectures, most of the big-names don't. And every time I listen to the agent lectures, at least one agent on every panel will mention the book that came out of nowhere. No crit-group, no RWA background--nothing. Just a writer learning the craft and writing.

It depends, I think. On what you want to do.

You can learn technique and craft with others, but writing is a solo act. In every group, school/university/whatever there will be people who can't see over the horizon of their mediocrity. They're the same people who used to lock writers up for hearing voices, and still classify us outside the norm.

They form committees and make writing safe for the masses, they create curricula. They create make-work that creates "stuff" without implementing the systems to create thinkers.

Who decided what is "right" thinking and "wrong" thinking? If you take a person and a stick of butter, why is making toast the right answer, and (insert something sexual here) the wrong answer?

So...give me all the information, let me think about it, marvel and wonder. And have the freedom to interpret it in my own way without being at a one-remove. Because I have things to do and places to go. The horizon is just a starting point.

3 comments:

Alice Audrey said...

This morning I dreamed I was teaching a writing course. I told everyone to get out their text books - a stack of novels from a variety of genres. I made the students mark them up with highlighter. They had to turn in their highlighted books as part of an assignment.

The absolute best place to learn how to write is to read with open eyes.

deanna said...

Wow...
there will be people who can't see over the horizon of their mediocrity...
Always.
Such good stuff. It's so encouraging, here in my little room, with the horizon stretching far. Thanks. And I like Alice's comment. I'm off to read some more with open eyes.

jodi said...

definitely, Alice. :)

You have far horizons, Deanna. I wish mine were are far-reaching. I'm still trying.