Read any good books lately?


By Ian Eyres, Senior Lecturer, The Open University

Spring is here, and along with it comes yet another headteacher telling children what they should or shouldn’t read. The Alex Rider and Twilight series are probably the most famous on the latest list of publications deemed to be ‘so simplistic, brutal or banal they are barely worth reading’.  This time, the list has been compiled by Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School in Wimbledon. In their place, he’d like to see children reading a range of ‘good’ books running from the works of P.G. Wodehouse to Lord of the flies. Continue reading “Read any good books lately?”

Writing in the cracks

By Anthony Wilson, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

I was having a coffee with a new writer friend the other day. Not having known each other for very long, I knew at some point he would ask me how I went about ‘doing it’, the writing he knew I was serious about, alongside the pressures of having a full-time job. (For the record, in my experience this kind of chat between writers is rare. Usually a writer will merely ask: ‘Are you writing?’ and leave it there.) Continue reading “Writing in the cracks”

The struggle

By Professor Debra Myhill, Director of the Centre for Research in Writing, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, The University of Exeter

One recurrent theme arising from our interviews with the professional writers in our Teachers as Writers research is that writing is not easy.  Many of the writers, when talking about their own writing, were very conscious of the dark moments in the garret, the private battles with the printed page, or the messiness of what they had written.  The realisation that the first draft was far from a final version was common, with one writer referring to her first draft as an ‘absolutely unholy mess of stuff’, whilst for another there was a recognition that ‘for me the first draft is just not terribly enjoyable, it’s very anxious because you don’t know if you’ve got a story or not until you’ve finished it’.   Continue reading “The struggle”

Make Every Word Count

By Lucy Oliver, Research Fellow, University of Exeter

‘Make every word count’ – a piece of good advice, carefully jotted in margins during a lesson on editing. As students contemplate their first drafts, I wonder how they might interpret this in practice. Make every word count for whom? And what is perceived to count in school writing? In response to such questions, many struggle to identify purpose or success criteria: ‘that’s not for me to say, it’sthe teacher’ (Year 8). So what understandings do young writers bring to the task of revision? Continue reading “Make Every Word Count”

Writing from the heart

By Teresa Cremin, Professor of Literacy in Education, The Open University

Our Teachers as Writers research reveals the highly personal nature of much writing. Threaded through our data from the Arvon residential we can see a strong sense of ‘writing from the heart’.  In some ways this not surprising; we know that writers draw on their lives and as Berlie Doherty observed many years ago, ‘fiction is a combination of I remember and let’s pretend’. But it wasn’t just anecdotes of life that the Arvon tutors Alicia Stubbersfield and Steve Voake shared in the workshops and tutorials; they also voiced their views and values, both in response to literature and in conversational dialogues around the teachers’ own compositions. Continue reading “Writing from the heart”