Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Teaching Exercise That Worked

Describing the room: An exercise for feature writing

You have arranged an interview in this room with the person named below. You arrive 30 minutes early. Since you will be writing on deadline, you decide to do a brief sketch of the room before your subject arrives, thinking you might be able to use it as part of your story.

You are interviewing a 60-year-old architect who has been hired to remodel all the classrooms on this campus.

A 35-year-old nun who is leaving holy orders to get married.

A 40-year-old USF employee whose job is cleaning this building.

A 70-year-old priest who is about to retire from USF.

The 40-year-old widow of a USF professor who died of a heart attack in this room last year.

A 20-year-old student who has just been expelled from USF for drinking.

A 10-year-old child prodigy who has just started college at USF.

A 50-year-old prison inmate who has a day pass to take classes at USF.

A 20-year-old USF student about to graduate with honors who is blind.

A 30-year-old construction worker who has been working on the gutting of Campion Hall.

Ten students, each with a different mandate. Every one of them saw the room differently depending on the source each student was supposed to meet. Was it the same room? Yes and no. Was each description appropriate though selective? Yes.


The student who wrote about the old priest noted the broken-down television set pushed into the corner. The student who wrote about the marryin' nun noted that through the windows of this classroom you can see neither church nor cloister. The student who wrote about the student bounced for drinking noted in a dry and clever way the sign that said:

No food. No drinking (!)

Sometimes it is all right to be pleased with yourself and your day's work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Fascinating! I so love it that we learn much more than we ever have before about what colleagues actually DO.