I am back in schools next week and planning the sessions for a project I have delivered a few times before in many local primary schools.
It is a project funded by my local council which was originally aimed at educating children about hate crime. It has now turned into a bigger project about cultural awareness and transforms the participants into Junior Ambassadors for their school and community.
The project involves artists from Africa, India and China as well as a session from local refugee support, an illustrator and my sessions as an author.
My job is to follow these other creative practitioners into the school and to deliver a creative writing response to the stimulus from their art forms.
So, for example, I will develop poems with the children following their Bollywood Dance experience, and focus on feelings and the senses. After the African drummer and storyteller, I will deliver a creative writing session which I call the ‘Story Bones’ where we will uncover the nature of story, and write our own African stories. And after Chinese calligraphy, we will explore ‘characters.’ I will use China as the setting and the characters will be based on the animals of the Chinese Zodiac. For the sessions about refugees, we will look at first hand testimony from refugees and write an account, or a letter home following an exploration of their journeys.
I am followed in each school by an artist, who explores images with the children which will illustrate their writing. The local council will then print a booklet of the children’s writing and pictures for the school’s library.
It is a big commitment from the schools, which are complex organisations under constant pressure to measure children and meet targets. And yet I have found that all the schools I have worked in have embraced this programme and managed to incorporate both the method and the message into their teaching schedule, especially admirable in a time of Covid.Continue reading “Author in the Classroom”