Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Barrel of Monkeys makes writing more fun

     Children want to talk. The third-graders in Mrs. Javor’s class at the Chalmers School of Excellence strain their twig arms toward the sky, fingers fluttering, desperate for permission to say what’s on their minds.
     They have the desire but, at 8 years old, can lack the communication skill to make themselves heard. When called upon, some speak in tiny voices, inaudible a yard away, their disjointed whispers trailing off.
     Enter a Barrel of Monkeys.
     “My friends, hello!” booms Mary Tilden, striding into Room 202 with four confederates: Alejandra Zavala, Marianna Green, Jo Jo Figarella and Barry Irving. “I’m so excited to see you.”
     The next 90 minutes are a whir of free-form storytelling boot camp, where students are led through fast-paced exercises that are part kiddie Stanislavski Method actor training, part junior Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

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  1. Wonder where the kids got the question whether ordinary people have to obey the law when the cops don't do so. Would love to see that discussed, particularly in Chicago where certain laws, such as those against jay walking, aren't enforced at all, and where the police ignore most traffic laws if they're the least bit inconvenient at the moment. Leading by example doesn't happen here for sure.


  2. When I saw the column in the paper it had "8-year old" in the headline, and I feared it was about the kid who was killed in the Manchester bombing. That would be a worthy subject, but I was relieved that this was much less of a downer.

    This is, it seems to me, a tremendously impostant project, as learning to write is the best avenue to clear thinking. In the words of Quintus Horacius Flaccus, aka Horace, "What grace may be added to commonplace matters by the power of order and connection." And what better way to achieve that than by writing it out.


    1. A skill someone we all know all too well hasn't mastered in his 70th year.



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