Ramallah: Al Qattan concludes a Science Fiction Writing Workshop for Teachers
Ramallah – A.M. Qattan Foundation:
On Saturday, 9 March 2019, the Educational Research and Development Programme (ERDP) at A.M. Qattan Foundation concluded a science fiction writing workshop led by British writer Callum Copley, in collaboration with Disarming Design from Palestine. The workshop targeted teachers participating in Al Qattan’s Drama in Education and Early Childhood programmes and was carried out over three days in Ramallah Recreational Complex.
Copley presented different genres of sci-fi writings and how to build and develop the storyline, characters and setting, distinguishing between fantasy which includes scientifically impossible circumstances and science fiction which explores potential consequences of scientific findings and innovations.
Copley also explained science fiction writing as an attempt to build an alternative world based on dystopian or utopian structures, indicating technological, geographical, social, cultural and political impacts. These impacts were discussed following film screenings, such as Star Wars, Star Trek and Avatar, just to name a few.
“We are working with teachers in more than one context to develop different educational methodologies. Currently, we are working on integrating art with science and through this workshop, we are exploring the scientific aspects present in cinema and writing stories.” Dima Saqfalhait, Coordinator of the ERDP Arts in Education track commented.
Safinaz Al Ajuri, considers using science fiction in the educational process encourages students to think and imagine. Although she had experience in writing science fiction stories, the workshop provided her with additional tools to write compelling science fiction stories which allows her to convey science lessons to her students.
Teachers were able to write a collection of short science fiction stories in which they unleashed their imaginations through various group and individual exercises. One of many exercises, teachers imagined themselves as astronauts on a fictional planet - recently freed from human occupation - trying to discover their homeland and rebuilding it anew.
In another exercise, Copely pushed teachers to create their own stories about the future based on a general set of guidelines. Lubna Hijazi imagined a world where all direct human communications were replaced with electronic communications, highlighting the emerging consequence of false appearances at the expense of true feelings. Hijazi told a story of a boy, trying to resist such a world with the help of his grandfather, and a group of people with special needs who have maintained human communication amongst each other.
Aisha Abu Arqoub wrote a short story about an imaginary country named Sirona, where it was decided in 2050 to build a wall closing it from all sides, including a ceiling that blocks the sky from people. Here she tells the story of two contrasting characters, a scientist trying to tackle the negative health and psychological impacts of the wall on the people, and a revolutionary trying to break the actual wall.
In a third story, Nisreen Subeih wrote about a virtual world in which technology can accurately determine embryo genetics and in a hundred years creating individuals identical in appearance, thought and ways of living, constructing a boring world lacking spirit and diversity.
“Science Fiction is a good way to consider our hopes and fears of the future. The writing exercises we did aim to employ participants’ creativity and encourage them to think outside the familiar and to conjure ideas from subconsciousness.” Copley commented.
Copley thought the texts produced were remarkable and that the participating teachers have a wide imagination. The organisers of the workshop pointed that the Science Studio, which hosted the workshop, is exploring the possibility of using the texts written by the teachers in other workshops, where teachers can turn the texts into film scenarios and produce them to be non-conventional education models in the future.