I know you've been on the edge of your seats longing to know what happened up at the Department for Education.
Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, is collecting ideas on how to encourage children to read. He says that he's got the 'decoding' in place (acknowledging that we wouldn't agree about that). He said he wanted to tackle the syndrome of 'can't read, won't read'. What ideas did I have about that?
[small intermission while Rosen muses on the phenomenon of canny sods who go about collecting vast consultancy fees every time they open their gobs within a hundred metres of a government minister and idiotic mugs like himself who turn up, gas on about reading, poetry, writing, teaching, schools, children, life, beauty, truth, the meaning of life and the universe and we don't even get to keep the security badge they give you on the way in.]
So, I repeated pretty well everything I've said on this blog about reading, writing, schools, teachers - I raved on about the model of teacher INSET pioneered by the Language in the National Curriculum project - why not a 'Reading Project' on the same model? I handed Nick Gibb my 20 point plan to turn a school into a book-loving school with the strong proviso that this shouldn't be a directive, that it was something schools could adapt to suit local conditions. I mentioned the 'reading revolution' website. I talked about how every school should be legally entitled to issue a library ticket to every child when they enter schooling in reception or Year 1 with a map showing the nearest libraries. We talked about how teacher training should include a module on children's literature - on all courses, not just some. I talked about 'browsing' and how this is a form of abstract thought, when children 'sort' their books into categories, how reading a Greek myth with my daughter aged 7, led her to between concrete and abstract thought as she investigated the meaning of the word 'pity'. I provided the reference to the research I've written about on this blog (see 'Books, books, books') which showed that having 500 books in your home (could be library books coming through), guarantees your child getting 3 years more schooling. (Mariah Evans, University of Nevada 2010) and so on.
[second intermission while Rosen remembers this conversation going with Ed Balls and Jim Knights, being treated with mild disdain because NuLabour were 'levering up standards' using SATs.]
It was a conversation. Nick Gibb listened and talked. I think I listened and talked. He said he was very interested in all this. He said that he would convene a meeting of all the Children's Laureates. I said that they were all passionate about reading and it could be fruitful.