Friday, August 6, 2010

What Could You Do With A Postcard?

Shortly after I started working at HarperAcademic (just over two weeks ago) I began furiously trying to catch up on our backlist of titles, considering the multitude of ways that they could be used in an educational context. One series of titles that I came across and found to be incredibly fascinating were the PostSecret texts. The PostSecret Project was started by Frank Warren; he had a simple request: anonymously decorate a postcard, revealing a secret that you have never told anyone before, and send it to his foundation. Not expecting much of a response, Warren was overwhelmed by the responses that continue to come in. Some funny, some darkly revealing, responses ranged from “I waste office supplies because I hate my boss” to “I am a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife. No one knows that I do not believe in God.”

While I am enthralled by the series personally, I began to think about how these texts could be incorporated into an academic forum. Having just reviewed Tony Romano’sOn Writing” section on his new website, which provides tips, activities, and prompts, I realized that these postcards could be used in a similar way. A possible writing prompt for a creative writing class or unit could be to take a randomly selected PostSecret postcard and write a piece inspired by it. The powerful nature of the submissions and the raw emotion these postcards present lend themselves well to extrapolating character traits and stories leading to (or resulting from)their confessions.

For example, one of the submissions was “call me. Dad died.” Those 4 words carry the weight of thousands. Asking a student to take the postcard further will force them to ask questions; how did dad die, why didn’t the other person know, etc. At the heart of these cards (and good story and character development) are complex and real human emotions which students should find challenging yet rewarding to try and flesh out.

This is just one example that I came up with, feel free to comment with any additional ideas of how to use The PostSecret project in an educational context.

Also, check out this video of more postcards received!

No comments:

Post a Comment