Wednesday, July 13, 2005

my awesome students

I asked my most advanced students to write freeform stories today. The procedure was this: each student had a piece of paper, upon which they wrote the story's first sentence: "This morning, I got up really late." They were then to find a partner, exchange papers, and write the second sentence of the story thereupon. Next, they had to take back their own paper, find another partner, and repeat the procedure until they had a decent story-- beginning, middle, and end. In other words, no student had control over his own story. With twelve students in the class, every story was fated to evolve in unpredictable directions.

I'd assigned this merely as a time-waster because the students were looking tired (we'd slogged through a healthy chunk of our textbooks; it's hard to find a student who loves the textbook, no matter how well-designed it might be), but I made an interesting discovery when the students read their stories aloud: the stories, aside from being completely wacked (something I'd expected), covered just about every major cinematic genre: we had Harry Potter-style fantasies, horror stories, sad and introspective yarns, gross-out stories, twisted love stories, and more.

The gross-out story had me in stitches, though I think some students were uncomfortable to hear it read aloud: the protagonist (and remember: the protag is the result of a tenuously collaborative effort; many students created him) woke up sick from an alcohol and food binge the night before; he vomited, bent over and tasted his vomit, ate the vomit, then vomited a second time and ate the vomit again. This went on for three or four rounds. Obviously, the guy couldn't get enough of his own puke. Definitely my kind of story.

Another story involved someone waking up and seeing a baby. The baby suddenly morphed into a huge gorilla, and the gorilla bellowed that it was the protag's mother. Unable to believe this claim, the protag asked for proof. "Look in the mirror and you'll see you're a gorilla, too!" the gorilla screamed.

All of this without the aid of drugs, people.

A third story involved a woman who discovered her husband had been cheating. This made her happy, because she didn't feel so guilty about the affair she was conducting.

A fourth story involved a sex change operation and a lover who went from straight to gay. Don't ask.

I ended up telling my students I thought they were all sick, which meant they were all like me. Proud smiles in response.

Should've asked my students to hand in their masterpieces; they would've been fun to blog.


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