A3Writer: A Class Is a Novel, not an Anthology
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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Class Is a Novel, not an Anthology


            I’m pretty weird when it comes to my classes. I don’t view it in sections, modules, or any other kind of subdivision. To me, a course is not something with bits and pieces that can be swapped out. It is an entire entity constructed for a purpose.
            I know there are some instructors out there who view their courses in the same way, or, as I want to connect this to writing, as a short story anthology. The instructor picks out each story they want to use, and can even change their minds later during the course. The stories (modules) they choose don’t have to have any relation to one another. One part has no bearing on the other part.
            To continue the story idea, all the stories could even have the same author, and the same characters, but are still separate stories. It won’t have a bearing on any other story module in the class.
            I tend to think of my classes as a novel. It is one large entity, where everything that happens in it is aimed at moving the whole novel forward. Everything works together towards that point.
            I think classes should be designed like a novel. Every piece of instruction should be focused on that overarching goal. Each piece of subplot and conflict will eventually be resolved in the climax.
            A side effect of this type of design is the student investment. It takes more to invest in a novel with a long, complicated plot rather than a short story. This is something that can’t simply be picked up for a week and then disregarded as you move on to another story. This takes real investment in time, energy, and mental effort. It’s a long haul marathon instead of a series of sprints.
            Consequently, students who aren’t willing to make such an investment won’t make it to the end, but those who do often get more out of the class than if it were an anthology.

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