This is the sad truth about literature teaching in all the schools I visit. I think a major part of the problem is that Creative writing PD is delivered, if ever, by literacy experts, rather than those involved in authentic writing. It is delivered from an “educational” perspective rather than a literary pooint of view, aware of contemprary trends. You should see the “descriptive writing marking matrixes” we use. I honestly believe what I was taught at school has been the major obstacle to my successful literary career.
Some years ago, during my first parent-teacher night as a high school teacher, the father of one of my students cheerfully told me that he thought it was a shame corporal punishment had been abolished. ‘They used to give me the strap all the time,’ he said. ‘It never done me no harm.’ Quite apart from the fact that being thrashed on a regular basis clearly hadn’t managed to improve his grammar skills, I was appalled by this statement. It was, I felt, right up there with that classic question: ‘Don’t they teach you anything in school these days?’
A decade and a half later, I’ve decided that people are taught lots of great things in school. But some of them may not be helpful if you plan to become a novelist. No, no – I don’t mean how to calculate the angles of a rhombus, or what the principal…
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