My secret writing agenda

I got home from a six-day road trip to Glendale, Arizona and San Diego, California. In Glendale, I did one show and eleven writing workshops with kids in grades four through eight. The kids at Heritage Elementary (I made it to the correct one this time, but that’s another story) and Desert Palms Elementary created some very clever lyrics about science: volcanoes, different types of rock, and how animals adapt to different habitats were among the subjects we explored. One thing that still surprises me is how intensively kids will dig into the vocabulary of a topic for sixty minutes (!) when it’s done in the context of creating something new, such as a song.

That’s the real secret behind the writing workshops: don’t tell anyone, but I’m not really there to teach the kids how to write music. For me, the music is a tool (and a really good one if the data is any guide) to help kids retain, understand, and share what they are learning about science, history, and… well, anything really. The organizing structure required for writing a good song transfers marvelously to writing prose essays and fiction. I think the only reason we aren’t all doing it this way is that it doesn’t feel like learning; it certainly doesn’t feel like teaching. And yet, these same kids in Arizona who did workshops with me last February still remember the lyrics they wrote on my last visit well enough to sing their songs for me without a second’s hesitation. Everywhere I went on campus, kids would see me and just burst into a song they made about plate tectonics or fungi.

And still we wonder why kids who do music also tend to do better at math, science, language arts, etc…

Then I had great fun at the San Diego Comicfest, doing a show and hanging out with some truly extraordinary writers and artists. Which reminds me, if you’re within traveling distance of San Diego the weekend of October 18 I urge you to consider attending Conjecture. It’s a wonderful three-day geekfest celebrating sci-fi, fantasy, RPG’s, movies, anime, steampunk, whimsical art, and all sorts of other great stuff. Bonus: the Southern California filk convention, a.k.a. ConChord, is happening at the same time & place and is included in your membership. BONUS BONUS: I’m the toastmaster of the whole thing! Seriously, this weekend will be legendary.