Writing a Novel and ....

Writing a Novel and ....

Education, Write or Wrong?

The importance of words

My youngest son bless him is 9 years old, his writing/reading skills are, with a bit of help on my part, far more advanced than his years. He started reading the excellent 'Secrets of Droon' series of books by Tony Abbott about 4 years ago, closely followed by the legendary 'Harry Potter' adventures. At breakfast time whatever happens to lying on the table (newspapers, magazines even junk mail) are scrutinised with a passion .... then the questions begin. What does ***** mean? Why did Tony Blair say **********? Yes we've all been there! Obviously there are certain limitations to a 9 year old child's conception of the world, but usually most of the questions are answered plainly and as honestly as possible.

The dreaded end of term parents evening beckons and if the last one is anything to go by this is the probable scenario;

Teacher - I think he could put more effort into his literacy lessons.

Me - Carry on.

Teacher - Your son seems to show a lack of interest in his reading and writing classes.

Me - Carry on.

Teacher - I was just thinking what we could do to address the problem.

Me - My son reads, and writes his own stories for hours on end, there is no problem.

Teacher - Maybe but he seems to find it hard at school.

Me - I've seen the stuff he brings home from school and quite frankly it's nearly all outdated rubbish!

Teacher - I'm sorry you feel that way.

Me - So am I but it's true!

Teacher - What would you suggest then?

Me - I suggest that the faceless archaic bureaucrats supposedly running the education system drag themselves and the curriculum out of the dark ages. I know it's not your fault and to a certain extent your hands are tied but honestly some of the subject matter bears little or no relevance to modern society.

End of conversation, sound familiar!

My sister in law - (Miss X for the purpose of this story) is an English teacher working in an inner city 'Learning Centre' (school). An idyllic job at a well to do all girls College, through her own choice, came to an end and on returning to her 'roots' decided to take on a more challenging role. The majority of the kids here have ethnic, mixed race or under privileged backgrounds and as such, rightly or wrongly, need an education tailored to their individual needs. Whether this should be funded by the taxpayer is a question I can not unfortunately answer, I have my own views naturally but lets stick to the plot!

Miss X is involved mainly with kids who think that 'Shakespeare' is the pub round the corner, Wuthering Heights is some naff song their mother plays endlessly and the only writing they do is usually confined to expletives and graffiti in public places. She soon realised that some of the kids didn't even want to be in school, some of them put up with it but would rather be elsewhere and a handful actually enjoyed the experience and participated fully in her lessons.

She listened to the kids, we're talking 14 - 16 year olds here, and took on board their needs, comments, suggestions etc and after reading between the lines (and sometimes a barrage of 'F' words!) realised surprise surprise, most of them deep down were responsible, caring young adults, they just showed it in different ways.

The most popular gripe held by the kids was, you've guessed it, the relevance or total lack of it regarding some of the subjects they were being force fed. The main reason half of them were bunking off every day!

Unless they are studying for a degree or writing an essay/paper, young kids today don't need Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde etc. Maybe the odd updated example to illustrate a point, but to the kids I'm talking about it's all a foreign language. Many of the words, metaphors and similies have no use whatsoever in modern day vocabulary. My own feelings are that some of the so called 'Classics' are now history and should be placed in that category.
Although her job at the school is still in it's infancy Miss X has integrated more up to date authors/writers into her lessons, interest has grown and student participation has increased along with attendance levels. Nuff said. How long will it take for the aforementioned education chiefs to brush away the cobwebs and bring our schools into the 21st Century?
Until such a time arises I will actively encourage my son, with a little supervision, to read anything and everything he chooses. The questions, even the awkward ones will still be answered honestly and hopefully his journey into young adulthood will not be a confusing, daunting or lonely experience.

Writing a Story Darling

Writing a Story Darling
No I won't be all night again!
Quotation of the Day