Thursday, September 22, 2005

I won't dance; don't ask me.

This morning I found the perfect example of a situation/issue/experience to help my 115 students with personal essay. I was in the women's restroom in the Wilk, across from the ballroom, when the room was flooded with girls in high heels and swishy skirts--social dance females. Their presence was the trigger I needed to start thinking about dance, dancing, ballroom, etc. The fact is, I don't dance. I can't dance, unless it's in a Top-40-everybody-looks-like-an-idiot situation. But I love watching people dance and I wish I knew how--that I had taken the time and energy to learn.

So I presented the situation to my class today, then asked them what kind of questions I could ask about the situation. They came up with a decent list, including the obvious "Why don't I feel like I can dance?" We answered that question: you feel foolish, embarrassed, you don't know the steps. I thought one guy said "skirts," so I pointed out that I was wearing a skirt, so that wasn't a logical answer. "Um, I said scared," he said. "Oh. That's a good one."

"So now we have our question and all these answers: I don't dance because I would feel foolish, I don't know the steps, I'd be scared or embarrassed. Is this enough for my personal essay?" And I got a resounding "NO!" They got it! They knew the story and the analysis had to be taken one step further. Success.


Master Fob said...

Hey, I'm teaching my students about personal essays. Maybe I'll steal your example.

"I was in the women's restroom when the room was flooded with girls in high heels and swishy skirts..."

Thanks, Editorgirl!

editorgirl said...

You never know what will work, Master Fob.

Master Fob said...

Actually, I did end up using your method, more or less. Except my story began with, "Back in 1996, I fell in love with Lauryn Hill..."

The class (all three classes, actually) agreed that my story would not make a very good personal essay. Mostly because it was boring to everyone except me.

KapkaVictim said...

I miss lauryn hill.

Personal essay...grr...

editorgirl said...

Maybe you should have tried "I was in the women's restroom. . ."


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