29 March 2009

Manila Times column for 29 March 2009: "End-of-the-semester woes"

original post here.

heheh it turns out i have an easier time than most colleagues. last i checked, less than five screenplays were submitted to me on the day of the deadline. let's see what happens next in the next few days...

sarap. pinapagaan niyo trabaho ko hahaha! choz.

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
End-of-the-semester woes

FOR hundreds of writing teachers out there, it’s that dreaded time of the academic year again—the end of the semester.

And why, you might ask, is this a dreaded time, especially for teachers who teach a certain type of writing course or style (literary/creative writing, scriptwriting, plays, journalism, etc.)? Well, the obvious reason is, of course, the pages and pages and pages of paperwork to be read—scripts (short films, full-length films, stage plays), short stories (from sudden fiction to near novelette-lengths), poetry, essays, creative nonfiction, reaction papers (some call it “reflection” paper these days), reviews, news stories, feature articles, what have you. And when you do the math of this trick, you’ll really end up with pages to check.

Let me illustrate. Let’s say I teach four sections of scriptwriting. Each class should have a minimum of 10 students, and a maximum of 15. Let’s say each class has 12 students. That’s 12 full-length screenplays, my requirement for their final project. A full-length film screenplay counts at least 50 pages minimum, depending on the content of the story. Each class would then produce 600 pages each. Multiply that by four. Tricky, isn’t it? And I haven’t gotten around to the other writing requirements yet—reaction papers, make-up papers, just tons of papers. Did I mention pages?


These are not just pages to read, mind you, but pages to comprehend. When I check my student’s papers, I do two kinds of editing: substance editing (to see if they understood the lesson well) and copy-editing (I want to inculcate a semblance of writing discipline in each student). And yes, I return the marked papers to them so that they could review it and look at what they did right and what they need to improve on.

I know not everyone is conscientious enough to do this. One time, I sat with my colleague who had to check exam papers. I was just horrified to see that he just browses though the papers and marks them automatically. I have no idea how his automation determines the grade of the paper, but it just ends up being graded. Well, I just pitied him because during that semester, he was teaching five literature classes of a general education subject, with each class having about 25 to 30 students each. You do the math on that one!

I don’t want to judge if my friend is right or wrong in doing that. He has his reasons. But I know, as a writing teacher, I won’t do that. I went into this trade because I want to make sure that future scriptwriters will carry the right tools with them when they go out to “the real world” to practice their craft. And if their teachers won’t teach them that, then who will?

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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