I’m sure I’m not the only one to have reflected on a course plan in writing prior to the class being deployed. At times when we reflect freely there doesn’t have to be sound reasoning for the impulse. Writing sometimes frees us to allow new intel to emerge. This is one of the benefits of free writing according to Peter Elbow and his great book Writing with Power.
Tomorrow in a course I teach called by many names—Improvising Story & Character, Interdisciplinary Improvisation, Improv, The Improv Course—I facilitate another iteration of the design. The emphasis in the first class this time round is not only in providing an overview of the course but in showing that before individuals can attest that they are ‘good’ collaborators, they need to first:
- Understand the kind of collaborators that they are;
- Deepen their awareness of how they collaborate in non-ideal situations where they have no choice who they collaborate with;
- Really really be open to learning how to improve how they collaborate with other people by breaking down what I call the mechanics of collaboration.
At times I make this assumption that because individuals read a program outline, apply to that collaborative program, are excited by the prospect of working on projects with others, that they really want to work towards a career in this collaborative digital media industry. This course that I teach as part of a suite of other courses this semester, and along with our projects courses in subsequent semesters, is the real test of that impulse to work with others. Most will succeed while a few others maybe not as much so. But at least through our program learners can become aware of and further define their ideal collaborative situations—know at least what they might not want.
While I and others may wish for everyone to realize the many benefits of working collaboratively, there are so many possible reasons why an individual may not be ready at a particular time in their life. As instructors, each time we all begin this co-creative journey with learners, we are excited at the prospect of our courses, of our program succeeding in its intents. It is in that spirit that I wish to remain throughout the semester, always with an eagerness to try: To believe in this new cohort of intelligent learners, to support them in realizing their collaborative potential and never give up on that. One of the keys to maintaining this goal will be to reflect on my teaching as I ask learners to reflect upon their learning. I will share these reflections weekly.