Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Wordshop - Andrew Strong

In my last post for ABBA I wrote about my intention to take a roadshow to schools across Edinburgh. I say ‘roadshow’ but I’m not sure what that is. I also used the word ‘workshop’, and in the end decided it was a ‘wordshop’.

Well, I did go up to Edinburgh, and I thought I’d tell you about it.

First, I should I explain that I really didn’t know what I was doing.  I think it’s important to state this otherwise you may be looking for the point of it.  I had about three weeks to prepare, and was looking for interested teachers at the same time. You can imagine the difficulties when I first contacted schools.

Teacher: so what is this about?
Me: I’m not sure. Literacy. Words. Music.
Teacher: does it have a purpose?
Me: Oh yes, of course. It will have. Soon.
Teacher: Could you say what the purpose is?
Me: I want to expand your mind. I want to control your stationery.

With a couple of days to go I had a format for the ‘wordshop’ worked out. I would talk about interesting words, read a few poems, ask children to make up their own poems, get children to improvise a surreal drama, then finish with some whale sound effects. Everyone likes those.  Had I discovered what the point of it was? No. I was on an adventure.  I suppose I wanted the children to feel that too, as if they couldn’t be too sure of what was going to happen next.

I would hold up my books, perhaps read from them at the end if there was time.  What I wanted to do more than anything else was engage children. Engage, entertain, amuse, confuse, distract, challenge, motivate, inspire.  That sort of thing. 

I’m back home now, two weeks or so later. It was great fun. The children I worked with were wonderfully exuberant and came up with some astonishing comments and insights, and took part with glee.  I loved the moment a boy stood up and began a hilarious chant using the word ‘potato’, and in one school a teacher laughed so much she had to go and sit in the corner and dry her tears.

I learnt several things: a) my keyboard is heavy b) parking in Edinburgh is difficult c) most people are open to new ideas d) rationalising what you’re doing is not always a good thing  e) nothing is as hard as trying to be funny, but when you succeed, it’s obvious. f) everyone loves to hear whale song.

So thank you Edinburgh, and all those people who gave me an opportunity to try out my multimedia self-publicity. A big thank you to Kenris and also Fiona, Saira, Amber and Richard.

Next, I want to try and combine music, poems and stories into a sort of operatic audio magazine. Sell them to schools at £5 a time. If it goes well I should make about £10,000 a month.  Enough to afford some real whales.


Elen C said...

Sounds bonkers, but fun!

Joan Lennon said...

Remember to budget enough to enlarge your bathtub.