i was just reading an excerpt of an article on using fanfiction in classrooms to promote writing skills. typcially i don’t like the attempt to include fanfiction in classrooms, however, this article focused on students choosing to write in their own genre, in a topic they enjoy, and using that excitement to create space for building writing skills. in this way, i think the approach is fantastic. i’m not sure how i’d use it in a freshmen composition classroom with 20-25 students, but in theory, it’s a fabulous approach. i used to teach kids at an asian based saturday school and i tried to develop a similar lesson plan. my students (there were only 6 so it was manageable) were obsessed with a dragon book. obsessed. they couldn’t believe i knew all the dragon mythology (thank you anne mccaffrey) i did since i had not read the book. as they told me the plot line (ahem . . .star wars . . . ) i was quickly able to guess what the outcome of the trilogy would be. they were amazed. i tried reading the books, i tried really hard, but they seemed like bad fanfic to me, not well written books. i found out a couple weeks later that’s basically what they were.
so from these books i attempted to guide my students through a fanfic exercise where they used the dragon world to create their own stories. it worked really well for my students who notoriously failed to complete any of their homework (at a saturday school that is ‘extra’ to their regular school it was hard to enforce and punish homework). i’m still really glad i explored this exercise with these students, but i can’t see a way to mainstream it for my composition students. not all fans get excited about creating their own fiction, some people still see this as the ultimate geekdom, and others don’t want to mess with the original. so while i personally LOVE fanfic (shout out to my JAFF friends), i can’t see ways to encourage it in a classroom full of students. i also wonder how young students who would benefit from fanfic can be encouraged to find it. i read Jenkins before i explored the internet looking for JAFF. essentially a fellow academic had to tell me this wonderful world existed first. how do young kids find it to begin with (like all the amazing harry potter fanfic out there)? so i guess, i just needed to write my conflict with fanfic. it has so many positives but i have no idea how to encourage it in a mainstream class, and i want to know how to encourage young student to explore their voices in these amazingly supportive worlds. i’ve seen calls at my community college for hosting 6 week sessions for kids/high schoolers, i wonder if that would be a place to start. since it’s optional only those interested would apply . . . . . . .