Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Creating The New Textbook

I live between two schools, with High School kids going one direction in the morning and the kids attending Elementary and Middle school travelling the other.

One thing they all have in common are back-packs almost as big as they are. There’s even one poor girl who’s so tiny she travels with a luggage roller because she’d never make a block on her own without a Sherpa.

Most of what’s weighing down those backpacks are textbooks. And I’ve long wondered why, in this day and age, schools don’t just supply kids with an iPad with courses accessible by apps.

But teachers tell me that this would mean the death of an entire industry dependent on revising and publishing textbooks, an industry that sucks up a huge portion of our school taxes –- money that could go to pay more teachers (or pay them better) and build new or better schools.

Part of me has come to believe it’s also a conspiracy organized by Chiropractors to ensure future employment.

But while books were once the cheapest way of spreading knowledge, that’s just not the case anymore. And for some subjects, it never was.

Take screenwriting.

Walk into any bookstore and there’s a shelf of “How-to” books for screenwriters. A lot of them are spectacularly helpful. But they all suffer from one tragic affliction. They can’t combine the tenets of story-telling with the experience of the final product.

Yes, they can show the step-by-step process of character creation or structure, but they depend on a previous or later viewing of a finished film so the student writer can fully understand how the writing process works.

And the lack of that immediate experience and connection means most screenwriting texts come off as dry or overly technical, turning off many budding filmmakers, most often the ones inspired to follow that career because of the visual power of the medium.

It’s comparable with training chefs by having them read cookbooks while rarely stepping into a kitchen.

Enter Janine Lanouette.

A teacher of screenwriting for more than 20 years and founder of online teaching site, Ms. Lanouette has now launched a project to teach the craft in a way that finally combines the process of script creation with the immediate experience of the final product.

“Screentakes Media Rich eBooks on Screenplay Analysis” is a project currently seeking funding on Kickstarter. And for me it’s the future of how screenwriting will be taught. And maybe the future of textbooks in general.

Check it out here. A brilliant way of saving burgeoning screenwriters now and maybe all kids and our education system itself in the future.

1 comment:

Birgit said...

I was a kid once...really! I was and I just don't remember being so bogged down with books. We had books but I don't recall looking like Quasimodo. I am a lover of the actual book but I do see why having these books on a computer, kindle, app or whatever would be better. The schools would lose tons of money as they love the skewer kids and parents for every drop