Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Don't Let School Stop You: A very interesting article about how pop culture is not necessarily the reason kids struggle in school. The case in point here is something called fan fiction. Fan fiction generally coalesces around popular sci-fi or fantasy storylines such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Harry Potter, Buffy, etc. From the base characters and universe of the show, fans write their own stories or episodes or even entire novels and publish them on web sites to share with other fans. To wit:
When she was 13, Heather Lawver read a book that changed her life: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Inspired by reports that J. K. Rowling's novel was getting kids to read, she wanted to do her part to promote literacy. Less than a year later, she launched The Daily Prophet, a Web-based "school newspaper" for the fictional Hogwarts. Today, the publication has a staff of 102 children from all over the world.

Lawver, still in her teens, is its managing editor. She hires columnists who cover their own beats on a weekly basis -- everything from the latest Quiddich matches to Muggle cuisine -- and edits each story. She encourages her staff to closely compare their original submissions with the edited versions and consults with them on issues of style and grammar as needed.

Or this one:

Consider, for example, the girl known online as Flourish. She started reading X-Files fan fiction when she was 10, wrote her first Harry Potter stories at 12, and published her first online novel at 14. She quickly became a mentor for other emerging fan writers, including many who were twice her age or more. Most people assumed she was probably a college student. Interacting online allowed her to keep her age to herself until she had become so central to the fandom that nobody much cared that she was in middle school.

All the English Composition classes in the world probably could not generate the desire to sit down and write like that. Which is exactly the point of the article:

We often act as if schools had a monopoly on teaching, yet smart kids have long known not to let schooling get in the way of their education.

Dead on. Personal aside: I think HRH Miss Anna would be a natural for this.