This spring I’ll be taking a cross country trip in order to teach three classes at University of Florida.
Two of the topics I’ll be teaching will be very similar to classes at USC that I feel were the most valuable to my writing career. One of them I enjoyed greatly. The other, I did not enjoy as much, but have always been grateful that I took it. I’m going to write a post about each.
The one I enjoyed was called “Screenplay Analysis.”
Before my script analysis class, the construction of a movie felt to me like a large amorphous blob. The class showed me how, in fact, a movie is made up of segments and parts that perform various functions — that there are recurring techniques and devices that are recognizable. It was the difference between walking through a garden and seeing “a bunch of flowers” and walking through a garden and seeing tulips and roses and snapdragons and having a sense of why they are planted where they are — either for aesthetic purposes — color or height or when they will bloom — or because of what they need to grow — light or shade or more or less water or a certain kind of soil. And also — to belabor the metaphor — differentiating between kind of gardens and understanding the elements that might go into choosing what kind of garden to plant in the first place.*
Another aspect of script analysis that made it enjoyable was that it was a large class taught in a dark auditorium. The teacher lectured, and unless you raised your hand, you didn’t have to fear he was going to break the fourth wall and pull you on stage. In my pedagogy classes, this was considered pretty old school, but honestly, I enjoyed it. I could process and think and plan out my questions if I had them. It was a class about receiving, and a class about training ones brain to think in a certain way.
However, it was a divisive class among the students. While it was one of my favorites (so much so that I snuck into other sections of the class for the next couple semesters), it was other people’s least favorite class. They found it boring and confusing.
I imagine it will be the same with my students. An odd part of being a teacher is how at any point you can be rocking one student’s world while at the same time you are simply inflicting torture on another student — by teaching the same material.
So I’m both looking forward to — and daunted by — the opportunity to teach this subject for the first time! I’ll try to check back in and let you know how it goes!
*I feel I should make it clear that I know next to nothing about flowers or gardens.