[project2012] Education Lens: call for content

Mark Barrett marknbarrett at googlemail.com
Mon Apr 14 19:01:18 BST 2014

[image: Terry Deary's Horrible Histories creations have made him a
Terry Deary; 'I am an anarchist'

On 14 April 2014 18:46, Mark Barrett <marknbarrett at googlemail.com> wrote:

> Agree with the mentor idea
> *He's happy to be poisoning kids' minds*
> *Terry Deary, the creator of Horrible Histories, hates authority and hopes
> his books subvert accepted teaching Josh Glancy*
> There is a word that sums up Terry Deary perfectly. I can't quite find it
> in English. Contrarian is too glib. Ornery is closer, perhaps. In my family
> we call people like Deary "davka". It's Yiddish for someone who stands in
> permanent opposition to received wisdom. Show them a consensus and they
> take the opposite viewpoint. Offer them a coat and they'll walk out into
> the rain in just a jumper. Davka is a compliment delivered through gritted
> teeth.
> Deary, a 68-year-old butcher's boy from Sunderland, is stubborn as a mule
> and loathes the Establishment. "No one listens to me," he says. "I'm just a
> thick Mackem."
> This isn't quite true -- he's far from thick. Deary has carved out his own
> genre in children's publishing. "It's not exactly history," he says. "It's
> a history of the horrible." Whatever it is, it works. His Horrible
> Histories books have sold 25m copies in 40 countries. A generation of
> British children has now grown up with Rotten Romans and Vicious Vikings
> and the more recent stage adaptations have also been a sell-out. Horrible
> Histories was recently performed in the Sydney Opera House.
> Last year Deary's publisher decided to call time on the 60-book Horrible
> Histories franchise in response to falling sales. Then it had a change of
> personnel. According to Deary it soon discovered the series wasn't in
> decline after all.
> "I just got a royalty cheque telling me I'd sold 1.8m copies last year
> alone. By any publisher's standards that's not bad," he says.
> So now he's back. First there was Terrible Trenches, a guide to the nasty
> realities of life in the First World War. It pulls few punches, describing
> how some British soldiers were instructed to shoot prisoners and blaming
> pompous politicians for sending men out to die. The book is already
> outselling many of the serious tomes published for the war's centenary.
> In the brief period when Deary thought Horrible Histories was finished, he
> embarked on a four-part series of adult history books called Dangerous
> Days. The second volume, on the Victorian railways, comes out next month.
> It will be his 250th book.
> How does he do it? "It's a job like any other. People won't accept this,
> they think I'm some sort of artist. I'm a hack. I don't get writer's block,
> that's for luvvies." He gets up at seven every morning and writes from
> eight until five. He takes a break only because "the dog needs a walk".
> He's a millionaire now and lives on an estate in Co Durham, but he has no
> pretensions. We meet in the cafe at the Gala cinema in central Durham
> where, "as The Sunday Times is paying", he has a cappuccino and a biscuit.
> He points to a building across the river that used to be the electricity
> board, where he had his first job as an office boy: "I could have easily
> spent my life working there. No one ever told me I could be a writer. That
> isn't what northern lads did."
> Drawn towards the arts, Deary eventually tried his hand at acting, where
> his scriptwriting skills led him to become an author. He still has a
> thespian twinkle in his eye. He breaks into song when I ask him about his
> wife Jenny (they've been married almost 40 years) and shows me a picture of
> his most recent role -- as a vicious zombie in a new British film. He has a
> daughter and two grandchildren, although he says he won't "inflict Horrible
> Histories on them. Unless they're interested, of course."
> Deary really does hate authority. You can see it in his books, where he is
> constantly poking fun at Aztec chieftains or British generals. He has
> turned down invitations to meet the Queen and Tony Blair.
> Where does it all come from? "School. The teachers put my back up. They
> kick conformity into children. Teachers are just bullies and schools are a
> waste of time. They're an ancient Greek idea that the Victorians borrowed
> to get kids off the street. It's fundamentally wrong."
> Instead of schooling, Deary would use mentors. "Every child has an
> entitlement to be educated for their needs. The key is to identify their
> talents," he says.
> "Schools can't do that in classes of 30. Mentors could. If you're a writer
> then someone attaches you to a writer. Art to an artist. Mechanics to a
> mechanic. What is your skill? Everybody has a skill."
> The continuing debate about how to teach history means nothing to Deary,
> it's just "a bunch of muppets in Whitehall telling teachers what to teach".
> He adds triumphantly: "I'm an anarchist."
> Unsurprisingly, his views on the First World War are also controversial.
> "Soldiers on both sides were brainwashed by propaganda. They were told to
> go out and kill for their country. All these arguments over who started it
> are pointless -- they all joined in enthusiastically."
> Why do his stories succeed where so many teachers fail? "Because they
> treat children with respect. Never talk down to children. Their ability to
> understand human nature has to be respected."
> I wonder if the teachers and parents who ply children with Horrible
> Histories realise how subversive Deary's message is. It may be cloaked in
> lavatory humour, but underneath it's pure radical. "That's the way sneaky
> propagandists do it. I'm poisoning the minds of children ... yes!" he grins.
> Will he ever stop to enjoy his hard-earned fortune? "I'm always looking
> on, always looking for the next mountain top. I'll keep writing, though my
> brain is so active I think I'll go senile soon."
> What then -- would he get on a plane to Switzerland? "That seems like a bit
> of a fuss. Just take a gun and shoot me." As I said, davka.
> http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/newsreview/features/article1399136.ece
> On 6 March 2014 09:13, Alison Banville <alisonbanville at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> > http://edulens.org/2014/03/education-lens-goes-live/
> >
> > Welcome to Education Lens
> >
> > Jon Wynne-Tyson wrote in the introduction to The Extended Circle: the
> only
> > way to save the world is to build into our education system the values -
> and
> > critical thinking is key - that will combat the endless propaganda that
> > society conditions young minds with.
> >
> > Education Lens aims to correct the distortions of learning caused by a
> > corporate controlled media. Only when young minds have access to the full
> > context of a particular subject will they be able to think critically and
> > question official narratives
> >
> >
> > Education Lens was originally conceived by Rippon Gupta on the Media Lens
> > Message Board and Facebook page. Many people have since volunteered to
> help
> > develop the idea into a platform not just for children but people of all
> > ages. The goal is build this site as a collaborative project with
> material
> > submissions and ideas for themes and discussions coming from anyone with
> a
> > keen interest in the learning and development of the next generations.
> >
> > If you wish to get in touch, please use our contact page or email at
> > web at edulens.org
> >
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