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Hart, 55, writer, San Diego

There's No Place Like Home

May 19, 1997

I'm a perpetual student. As the author of numerous books, articles and plays, I spent the last 33 years training myself and others through correspondence courses.

My formal education includes a bachelor's degree in science and professional writing in 1964 from New York University and a graduate degree in English with a creative writing emphasis in fiction from San Diego State in 1979.

I think education in the classroom, however, stifles creativity because a student is only supposed to speak when they are called on, and they aren't taught to question authority.

I've been able to overcome these limitations through numerous correspondence courses I've taken through the mail and on the Internet. I've studied everything from anthropology to creating a World Wide Web page from the comfort of my home office.

One of the courses I enjoyed most was a script-writing class I took in 1984 from the Hollywood Scriptwriting Institute. I learned how to write screenplays at home and went on to pen 11 screenplays and four novels I expanded from the screenplays.

What correspondence school provides a student that regular college courses don't is what I refer to as "buzz appeal," or credibility and visibility in the eyes of authority.

A student also isn't required to sit in class and listen to other students' life histories, leaving them more time to learn the course material. Correspondence classes allow introverts, like me, more time to formulate an answer rather than coming up with it on the fly like one is forced to in a classroom setting, where a teacher calls on students.

Taking classes at home is also the best of all worlds for me because I don't have to pay to take the bus to class and waste an hour each way, as well as buy my lunch while I'm on campus.

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