My thoughts on teaching are taking a new form. I began designing courses since just before starting Adept Play, but hadn't settled on a format until Giano Academy contacted me. Their required structure helped a lot. Five two-hour sessions seems very brief to me, but for internet and practical reasons, it's actually really good as the minimum possible. It also forces me to focus quite hard, always a good thing.
So, after just over a year of teaching things via Giano Academy, it may be time to do this all by myself. I've refined what I've done already and generated some more course ideas too. Ideally I'd like to be able to offer courses through other institutions, as a guest instructor or anything similar, but perhaps the best thing is to build up the curriculum on my own first. I've just finished the first try at doing so, with two very enjoyable experiences with my courses Phenomena and Playing with The Pool, conducted directly through Adept Play.
So here's what I have in mind. Starting at designated dates, I will teach two courses for five weeks. I think if I lay out the schedule for six months, then people can sign onto them in plenty of time. I'll either handle sign-ups at Discord or with some web-widget I get help with here at the site, or both. They'll be held just as I did over the past five weeks, through a channel at the Adept Play server. Signing up also means paying me by a certain deadline: the fee is 1250 SEK (Swedish kronor), which includes 25% VAT. I'm told that it's a bit of a steal for the student, in terms of quality, but at present I'm aiming for more people taking more classes, rather than cash-bang per person.
So, what gets taught, anyway?
The following two are the foundation courses. I will always teach either one or the other during any given term. I don't want to be so rigid as to expect people to take both of them before anything else, so let's consider either one to be a prequisite to all the other courses, including each other.
PEOPLE AND PLAY concerns the experiential fundamentals of play: what it's like to do it, what interactions and concepts are involved, some of the shapes and profiles the activity has taken on over its history, and its qualities as a unique medium of expression. Its lens is "the obvious," what you know you do when you're doing it.
PHENOMENA addresses those procedures and experiences which are not so easily accessed or noticed when you do them. It might be considered the physiological or cellular correspondence to the anatomy and behavior in the above course: what effects and responses underlie such things as rules and excitement. (This course is an altered version of "Introduction to Design" as taught at Giano Academy, so if you've taken that, consider yourself to have done it.)
The following five courses do not follow a sequence. If you’ve attended Phenomena, People and Play, or both, you can take any of these in any order.
PLAYING WITH THE POOL uses James V. West's The Pool as a means to go very deep into how speaking and procedures actually work. It draws upon the game's disturbing feature to expose things which you personally are bad at and manage to elide in any other game.
THE RONNIES is an anti-design course, teaching how directly experiencing inspiration and enjoyable play arrives at new rules without blocks and suffering. It defies the notion of a design project with structured playtesting, production benchmarks, and publishing strategies.
ACTION IN YOUR ACTION examines the ordering and resolution of fictional activity in detail, with rules, rules, and more rules. It reveals the value of complexity, especially its diversity across historical design, and clarifies the difference between merely busy procedures and desirable, exciting ones.
THREE FANTASIES presents the historical interaction of fantasy and role-playing, celebrating both but also harshly examining their mutually negative effects. It aims to rediscover fantasy among the participants and their experiences of play and playful design.
NUMERACY introduces the concept of math as a language, especially what it is used to say in role-playing. Topics like representation, probability, and innumerate fallacies, but focuses more on set theory, chaos theory, game theory, and multivariate analysis … which I assure you are much easier, insightful, and more fun than they sound. In fact, you're doing them already – this course merely shows you how. (I'm currently still getting this one into shape to try for the first time, but it's close.)
If you're interested to know about how I teach, think of a combined discussion+lab course with a great deal of messy, emergent activities which then feed back into the next dialogue. Each syllabus is quite organized at a coarse grain, but each group develops its own body of most prioritized questions depending on who's in it, so there's no way to do it as a canned or standard presentation. There's no grading and no pass/fail; on the other hand, each week includes a homework assignment which I review in detail and take most seriously.
I'm currently thinking of beginning a new term in mid-April. I'll have all the relevant information displayed here in organized, obvious form, so keep an eye out.