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A good friend teaches new teachers in England. She was herself a distinuguished, imaginative teacher for many years. In response to a post on Facebook that I made about the impenetrable language of the new and ever-more restrictive framework for the assessment of children in primary schools, she posted some deeply depressing comments about the state of schooling now. It is a state which Rosemary Sutcliff, a story-teller par excellence, would deplore. Unable to understand some of the expected standards, I had asked if I should return to primary school. She posted:

Under no circumstance return to primary school, unless it is to tell stories, read stories, share songs and poems, listen to what children have to say, share books and the pleasure of reading, write together and enjoy each other’s writing. Slowly, slowly, without respite, successive governments are stealing childhood, ignoring any sensible understanding of language or of culture or, indeed, of what it might be to be human. I feel overwhelmed by the great crimes that are being committed against children.
Our students make a close analysis of one child’s language use and learning in reading, writing, speaking and listening. Each successive year, the crimes are greater. Fewer children are given space to write and understand what writing might be, even fewer children understand the pleasures of reading though they can de ode with fluency.
One thing that we are doing here is to run teachers’ writing groups and here change and growth and great pleasure can occur.

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Dear Lovers of Rosemary Sutcliff
I am beginning to think ahead to 2020, the 100th anniversary of Rosemary Sutcliff’s birth in 1920.
Do you have ideas about how the centenary might be publicised and celebrated and used to good effect?
Anthony Lawton

Rosemary Sutcliff’s rocking-horse Troubador

I do apologise to many readers and followers, some of whom have contacted me. Your enthusiasm here is for Rosemary Sutcliff, not porn. But this account was hacked, and a very inappropriate post or ten put up while I was not looking over the last three days of the Christmas Holiday. I do hope I have now put a stop to it. I am sorry I had not caight this sooner.

If you still see such posts above this one, I have obviously failed to stop them and will keep trying.

Season’s Greetings

Anthony Lawton

The The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature from 2006 has a long entry on Rosemary Sutcliff. It suggests that The Mark of the Horse Lord (published in 1966) is her finest historical fiction in the eyes of many people.

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This is the entry on Rosemary Sutcliff in the Oxford Companion to English Literature (7th ed.)

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