Courses! Courses! Courses!

Well, Ange and I headed down to Tuart College this morning for our first session of the STAT preparation course (the course that prepares you for the test that gets you into Uni – follow that?). It was only 3 hours, but since I hadn’t set foot in a class room for 11 years, it was a change of pace. Ange is keen to get to Uni to start an anthropology/philosophy/psychology course, and while she has been excelling in Youth Work at TAFE, the lecturers aren’t cutting the mustard. Besides, TAFE was always just an avenue to Uni for her. Hopefully a good STAT score will be a short cut.

I took on the STAT course as a support to Ange and as an intellectual exercise (its only 3 – 3 hour sessions). While I am powering through this Advanced Diploma of Arts, I only have a passing interest in pursuing writing at University level. I guess I’m just competitive enough to see how I would score on this test.

Today, we went through the english component of the test. Regrettably, our literacy lecturer was quite inept. In fact, she wrote ‘lecturerer’ on the whiteboard. I struggled to contain the mirth every time I looked up and reread it. Ange also hit fine form, disagreeing and correcting the lecturer on a number of key points. Not that she’s as pushy as I make out, it’s just that when the lecturer doesn’t listen, and the class (who are pinning their futures on this for tertiary entrance) are damn confused – she felt compelled to correct a few basic definitions – such as for objective and subjective.

Not coincidentally, when we wrote a practise essay for 15 minutes, I started mine off with a foray into ironic situations. Ostensibly, the irony referred to a writer writing about his life as a writer. Without sounding big-headed, she chose to read from my introduction to the rest of the class. In all fairness, I have a teeny bit of an advantage over the rest of the class when it comes to writing, so I should admit there was some guilt involved.

When we returned home – on a high as this was the first time I was able to share Ange’s ‘bitching’ about the inept state of VET lecturers and courses – I found my first assignment from the Advanced Diploma in the letterbox. My tutor, no less than Robert N Stephenson, stated (and I quote): “I was very impressed with your first assignment; you answered everything correctly and wrote a better article than the original. This shows good story vision and the ability to imagine beyond the square.” I was also graded as a ‘Good Pass’. I consider that very impressive, as the ratings scale is only ‘pass’ or ‘fail/redo’.

Further to my course, I tackled Assignment 4 this afternoon. This happened to be the one I had been looking forward to most – writing a short story <500 words. I had originally intended that to be On Dark Clouds Borne, but I wanted something that better fit the assignment brief. After a long burst of wavering concentration, followed by a short burst of inspiration and implementation, a story entitled Practical Joke, has been born.

At exactly 500 words (not including passage break symbols, which confuse the count), Practical Joke is a ripper of a yarn about a mum cleaning the bathroom, while being set-up for a childish prank by her son. Something strange lurking in the drain throws in a snippet of complication. I am pleased to say this has everything a good story (and the assignment stated) should contain – plot, characterisation, sub-plot and detailed description. I will send this off by email tonight for marking, and with a few minor edits, I think this one is destined for the flash section of Ideomancer, or perhaps Andromeda Spaceways. Time (and the next few posts) will tell.

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