One of the most challenging parts of being a professor is also one of the things I like most about teaching. I teach in communication, mostly journalism. There’s a lot of people who think that journalism is dying or dead, but that’s not true. It’s evolving. Trouble is, no one is sure exactly what it’s evolving to. That’s why it’s critical that I constantly try to keep up with changes in the industry and learn new things.
I also teach writing classes for the English department. This semester I am teaching Drama Writing, which is basically script writing for stage and for screen. I used to do a lot of that years ago, but for several decades now I have focused on writing novels. I had intended on spending the summer getting back up to speed in script writing, but the summer got away from me.
My solution is these kinds of cases is that I tell the class, “We’ll learn this one together.” I am never afraid to learn something new from a student, and believe me there are many sharp students out there. My approach toward teaching skills has gone from pretending I know everything (which I don’t) to allowing students to learn and grow, as I watch over their shoulder.
The latest thing for me to learn is a free software program called Celtx. I believe it was originally intended for screenwriting, but has branched out to AV writing, stage play writing, audio plays and even novels. It’s great. I was at first a little leery, worrying that I didn’t have time to learn a new software program (I still want to learn Illustrator!). But I have been playing with it, and encouraging my students to do the same. What it does is save you time on formatting for your script, whether you are writing stage directions, dialog or what they call “parentheticals.”
If you write scripts, and because of this class, I probably will be doing more in the future, it is definitely something to look into.