You may begin…
June 21, 2012 § 3 Comments
In my son’s parents’ evening last night, trying to reassure his English teacher that we, and he, valued the subject (we’d put our feet in it by talking about his particular enthusiasm for science), I quipped that despite not enjoying English at school, I was now a poet! She looked a bit jaded.
Now Michael Gove (via the Daily Mail) has declared his intention to reintroduce O Levels. If he succeeds, my son and his peers would be the first to have a bash at it. Well, we’ll see: but these two things have got me wondering about creativity and the curriculum. My O Level English, as far as I remember, focused on developing functional skills – writing persuasively, responding to comprehension texts: writing poetry was something you largely left behind (suitably double-backed) on the primary school wall.
Things may have changed with the introduction of GCSEs – I have had no experience in schools, so I don’t know. I do have friends who work as Writers in Schools; and a writing development project called Signposts does great work with young writers in South Yorkshire. But both of these initiatives suggest that creative writing exists outside of the Key Stage 3 – 4 curriculum, and is consequently someone else’s concern.
Is this the case? If so, is this one of the reasons why creative writing – and the production of poetry in particular – is perceived by the majority of the population as something peripheral, lacking intrinsic value, even? Is the close analysis of texts (in the English Literature curriculum) deemed a more important skill to our society than the skills of production? Is this part of the increasing emphasis on consumption?
I hope not. I hope that those with more experience in secondary education than me will be able to show how the curriculum is a richer place, with English more closely aligned to other subjects – visual and performing arts, for example – which put creativity at the centre of things.