Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tall Tales

I occasionally get recruited to come in and help out with the writing curriculum at YG's school. The fifth grade are involved in writing tall tales, and I went in to talk to the kids and look at their stuff. What's fascinating is that a lot of them, who I'm sure have the full complement of kid imagination, are so preoccupied with getting it right that they're afraid to take a chance on anything. "Is this a good name for my character?" "Well, do you like it?" "Um, yes, but is this a good name?" "It's your story..." and so on. The teacher and I came up with some ideas for the sorts of tall tales that explain local features--why the top of Bernal Hill is bald, how the Bay came to be, how Alcatraz Island was formed, etc. I immediately had six ideas for tall tales, and the kids were rather bewildered: how could I come up with all those ideas? It's a muscle, I explained. If I spent all day doing lay-ups and jump shots, my basketball skills would be pretty good. I spend all day thinking about stories, so I have plot skills. I think most of them would rather be playing basketball.


Blogger Kevin said...

Fun analogy, Mad.

Sounds like it was a fun class too.

Part of the trouble of school is that there is so much emphasis on "getting it right" and not enough on learning by experimentation. And no one seems to think about revision, like the simple one of simply going back and changing a character's name after you write the story if you find one that fits better.

10:40 AM  

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