Last night I taught my last workshop to the kids in my Young Writers Workshop, run through the Fort Smith Public Library system. We had started out with twelve students, and we were down to four at the end -- well, really, twelve signed up, but only eight showed up at the first session, so.
I had never taught anyone younger than seventeen (maybe sixteen) outside of my own kid -- the freshmen in college age. We get some high school students here at UA-FS, but we just treat them like adults, so I've never thought of them as "kids" exactly. I went into this experience with some trepidation, is what I'm saying.
"You can't cuss," my kid reminded me on the first day.
I rolled my eyes at her. "I'm not stupid, you know."
"Well, I know. But you cuss an awful lot."
Which, well, that's true. And usually in the university classroom I make it a point to say fuck at least once on the first day of class, kind of like a forewarning: so the tenderhearted can bail, right?
I figured that would not be a good technique here.
Also, how do you teach twelve year olds to write? And what if they were all terrible? And what if they couldn't or wouldn't talk?
(Ha! That last was not a problem. Getting them to shut up, now!)
I ended up with two twelve year olds and two fourteen year olds (one of them my kid) and all of them could write and all of them were very smart and all of them would talk, indeed. Teaching them was no problem. Teaching them was delightful. (I did not cuss, you will be proud to hear.) I put almost everything in writing -- they had assignments evey week -- and for the first sessions, we did a lot of in-class writing. For the last sessions, we did workshopping. One session, Dr. Skull came in and did a poetry workshop, since I don't do poetry.
Highly successful. We're running it again in the spring, expanding to eight weeks, February to March. All their parents came in on the last day to tell me it's all they talk about, and they're all signing up again.
6 hours ago