Tuesday 20 November 2007

Working with Schools

I was at the NAWE (National Association of Writers in Education) annual conference recently. I divided my time between the Higher Education strand and the Schools strand. There was controversy in both places. But after all, maybe that makes the discussion worth it.
In the school section, it kept coming down to creativity against the curriculum. There was a feeling that the curriculum was constrictive. I don’t actually think that that is the case. Anyway, teachers are so talented at doing what a writer doesn’t have the skills to do. What is more, they know their own children.
I was in a school yesterday. We are going to produce a book. We worked on content. The children chose a theme – Freedom – and we worked on stories, haikus, opposite and acrostic poems and non-fiction. We didn’t finish any piece of work, but they had a very rough draft of at least the beginning of four pieces of work each.
It was a very well planned visit, but even so, there was a little mismatch between what I expected and what happened. Is there an argument, therefore, for actually providing the materials - obviously put this into the cost – and put in writing how you expect the other staff to work with you? Providing the material might make it different form “just another school activity”. But how might the staff react to being told how to be supportive?

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