Sunday, January 18, 2009
Vive la Difference!
Gary of Follow Your Bliss recently posted (among other observations) about the difference in boys' and girls' writing topics. It reminded me of this experience...
What I Learned at Camp (an excerpt from the original column)
I spent four weeks at summer camp this year. The subject was computer journalism. I was the teacher. Here's what I learned:
No matter how you word it, if the course description has the word computer in it, at least half the kids are going to think "Games!" and are going to be mightily disappointed to find they have just signed up for two weeks of writing.
"Writing? But it's summer!"
"What, you can't write in summer?" I ask.
"I don't want to write in summer!" Eyes roll back in the head, hands clutch at the stomach, a grimace contorts the mouth and the child falls to the floor, feigning death.
So we play writing games. I tell the children to type a sentence on their computer and then move back to the next seat. Each time they move, they must write a sentence that makes sense with the others so the end result is a coherent story. The girls write about flowers; the boys turn them into man eating blossoms that devour whole cities at a gulp. I look at my assistant Connie and we share an "uh, oh."
A child's imagination will reflect his world.
If you don't believe that, you should try playing story rounds with a group of kids. Take an ordinary object, a pine cone say, and give it to one child. Explain that s/he must make up a sentence about the cone and then pass it to the next child who makes up another sentence related to the first. The object is to end up with a story about a pine cone.
"Once there was a little girl who had a pine cone."
"Yeah, and the pine cone grew to be huge."
"Yeah, and it was a man-eating pine cone and it ate the whole town!"
"And then the pine cone took over the whole world."
"Wait," I plead. "Could a pine cone really do that?"
"If it was on drugs, it could."
The cone is passed one last time. "After the pine cone took over the whole world it became a nice pine cone and gave everyone an ice cream cone."
Guess which gender the last sentence was written by...