Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Learning from Students

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Learning from Students

Article excerpt

For the last few years, I've had the chance to spend a few weeks each winter season working with some talented young high school students who have expressed an interest in both journalism and the arts.

They have been participants in the Asolo Student Journalism program, and I've helped indoctrinate them into the world of reviewing and arts journalism.

I'm just glad that there are still some young people interested in my kind of career (or whatever the future variation may be).

This program has developed in an unusual way since it began about five years ago. At the time, the Education and Outreach Department asked me to speak to that first group about what critics do. When I was done, I mentioned that if they wanted to write a review, I'd be happy to look them over and critique them.

Somehow, that led to my leading five workshops with the education staff and occasional guest artists, who provide some insight into how the theater operates, backstage and on stage.

This year's students wrote two reviews and one feature preview story in advance of the opening of "The Grapes of Wrath." The theater has provided them with tickets, and at the end of the sessions, they each received student passes that get them in for free if seats are available at the last minute. (Those passes are available to any student for $35 for the season, which is a great deal.)

I can't say that any of this year's group will become critics or journalists, but I hope the lessons they've learned will help them to be better arts patrons and in whatever kind of writing they will be doing in their future lives. There are still a lot of college papers to be written.

And I know I learned quite a bit myself.

That's one of the great things about this kind of project. I can't help but learn from hearing different perspectives and being asked questions. And by having to explain what I do, along with how and why, it reinforces my own process and makes me think about and reconsider things I may sometimes do by rote.

The 2014 workshop included nine young women, mostly from different schools (I'm not sure why there have only been two boys in all the years we've done this). …

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