Two of the biggest things that make a story interesting to the kids in a TPRS class are the elements of suspense and surprise. But if the one directing the story, asking the questions, making those split second decisions about where to take things during the creation of the story already knows what is coming, has prepared all that in advance, then those those elements are gone, and with them, any hope of really engaging the kids.
On the other hand, if the teacher does not know where things are going, then the students are free to enjoy the feeling of suspense as surprise people and events continue to make their way into the story as it is being created. When that happens, the difference in the quality of the story is enormous.
Yesterday a story about a character made up by the kids whose name is Mr. Positive contained elements that never could never have happened had I known where the story was going, had anything been planned in advance, had I been following some kind of lesson plan, and had I even known that I would be working with Mr. Positive that day!
Had I known those things, the story would not have been interesting to me, and if it’s not interesting to me, it can’t be interesting to the kids. My questioning would have lacked that intangible quality that marks really fun stories.
It makes me think of this quote:
“If I were to wish for anything, I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of the potential, for the eye which, ever young and ardent, sees the possible. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!”
Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
This is just a corollary to the above. We need to ASK THEM what they want to talk about before we start talking. This is as per Star of the Week. Why not ask THEM what questions they want to be asked. It’s not that hard to do and the results are fantastic. Just given them time to tell us what they want to be asked. Duh.
(to be continued)