This week I got a strange and unique opportunity dropped into my lap, an offer that basically ran along the lines of : “come teach a class about fantasy to young impressionable minds.”
In a nutshell I was asked to put my own idea together for a class for a local private, cooperatively-run K-8 school. Though my first impulse was “hells yeah we throw on some Sabbath, play D&D everyday and then I lecture about some books to read for 8 minutes” I rallied and tried to put together something that has a fig leaf of educational value.
I tried to frame the class around worldbuilding broadly speaking, titling it “Imaginary Worlds” with an emphasis on the kids (I'm orienting to the older half of the school) creating their own fantasy world setting as a springboard for the real meat of creative writing and delving into real world mythology (Nordic, Greek, and Native American), physical geography, history and fantasy literature (I'm thinking some readings from Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, Tolkien's The Hobbit, The Dark is Rising and maybe a few others if we have time). In other words, a class I would have given my proverbial left nut for when I was a tween.
Shockingly, the school gave the thumbs up and class begins in early February. But now I am left with the rather awkward question of: how the hell do I pull off such a class? I'm not a total greenhorn having taught English to grade school children in Slovakia and writing classes to interns at my last journalism gig, but the task does seem rather tall when I sit down and try and think out a real curriculum.
Of course the point here is not to crow (though as a Texan I am not above extended public braggery) nor to hem and haw (again something I do from time to time), but to plug back into that hive mind for ideas.
Have any of you, as educators, parents, aunts/uncles yadda yadda, had any experience trying to teach kids how to think about fantasy (broadly or a specific aspect)? Any specific recommendations for books and other material or just suggestions/tips in general?