I am teaching playwriting this week in a private boarding school. Some observations….

  • The school looks very much like a time honoured tradition. Old buildings, a great hall, brass lions outside. On my first day, I feel under dressed.
  • Many of the students are from foreign countries and it’s amazing how amazing their English is. I plow on with my processes and my playwriting exercises and there hasn’t been one time where someone has looked confused. I can barely remember my school french….
  • The only time the English as a second language thinking comes through is in the writing. The student’s dialogue can be quite formal.
  • Jealousy seems to be a universal emotion, felt by teens in any language. They all find it easy to write about.
  • Boarding school life seems very involved. Especially for the teachers – teachers have to lead two extra curricular activities, teach on Saturdays and do evening dorm duty.
  • Not coming from a Catholic school background, the uniforms weird me out.But even with the sea of conformity there is still the bursts of individuality with the hair, the shoes and the way students decorate their laptops.
  • Yes, this is a lap top school. 20 students sit in front of me and all pull out their laptops at once. Another thing that weirds me out. When students write there is a soft clickity clack as their fingers stomp across the key board.
  • One would think that having access to such great technology such as laptops in the classroom would help students with their work. It just gives them quicker access to facebook and their photo albums. If a student isn’t looking at you, they’re looking at something that has nothing to do with school. As I walk around the classroom it’s a constant click-click as students switch from what they were looking at to what they’re supposed to be working on.
  • Students who don’t listen also seems to be a universal teen attribute. I’m teaching five classes who are all in the middle of writing ten minute plays. In every class, every day this week more than one student in various accents have asked ‘how long does this have to be??’
  • And then on the other hand, it still gives me such a thrill when I talk about a certain aspect of playwriting and then see students directly apply it to their work. It surprises me sometimes when someone actually hears what I’m saying and is able to process it. Who knew?

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Lindsay Price

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