Sorry I’m not around very much at the moment but we’re in the middle of a six day book festival at the University and life is a bit on the hectic side. We’re also all holding our breaths in the southern half of the country as St Jude’s Storm heads our way over night. Even though I live in a city there is a very good reason why the word woods appears in my address, because our small estate is built in the middle of an ancient woodland and the trees are still in full leaf. The next twenty-four hours are going to be interesting. And then, just to add to the fun, the local water pumping station has suffered a major burst and we have no water over the whole of the SW quadrant of the city. Even the water company is describing it as a ‘Major Incident’, so it must be bad. They don’t usually admit that there’s even a minor problem.
The book festival has been great fun so far and I will do individual posts about some of the major events later in the week, but as a taster I will just tell you about Friday’s session with Sir Tony Robinson, who came to talk about Weird World of Wonders, his series for children (and all the rest of us who haven’t grown up yet or are still in mourning for Blackadder). We filled our new concert hall with enthusiastic local children who were whipped into a state of even greater excitement by being allowed to join in with all the various activities. So, we built the great pyramids, ran the original Olympic races and investigated what the Romans used instead of toilet paper. (Adults were not allowed to listen to that bit, but as I am one of those who flatly refuse to admit to having grown up I didn’t count!) Finally, we looked at what inspired the growth of the British Empire and spent ten minutes yelling the word Gold at the tops of our voices.
I’ve long been a great fan of Tony Robinson, especially his archeology programme, Time Team. He cares so much about learning and making learning interesting. That came through loud and clear in the hour he spent with the children. I was especially pleased that one of them asked him about writing and he talked about the need to find something that you really cared about and focus on telling everyone about it as best you possible could. And that that meant not being satisfied with what you wrote first time, because although it would have lots of good ideas in it it wouldn’t be the best you could do. Encouraging children to do more than one draft of a piece of written work is very difficult (often because they often can’t see the point of writing the piece in the first place) so you could hear all the teachers in the room giving a tiny cheer as he said this. It’s good advice for us all.