Most of my telling in these early months of 2012 has taken place in schools. From Tudor tales and activities at Stalham and Northrepps Primarys to comic tales at Shine in Gt Yarmouth (For children with special needs and their families) Also three days of Beowulf and other stories of quest in a number of primary and secondary schools in Ipswich. This was part of a local funding initiative that coincided with national book and reading week to bring greater cooperation between the schools and their pupils.
What struck me about these schools is the level of optimism they project and also dedication from teachers and other staff. In just one of the Ipswich schools there was a map of the world with corresponding arrows leading to pupils work - From a story and photographs about the time a group of Maasia people came to dance with the children and presumably at other schools as well! Also another arrow linking to a letter; one of many written to Maori pen friends in New Zealand.
In another school there were banners all around the hall painted by the kids and dealing with a wide range of subjects from respecting other peoples beliefs to recycling and helping others. Whilst on the walls were the children's versions of aboriginal 'dot' art. In the final school of the last day in Ipswich I watched the children telling stories that they had created themsleves using typical quest themes, with Princes and Princesses going off in search of adventure.
The children were totally unafraid and there seems to have been no thought or worry about how they looked and the other kids in the audience were supporting the performers and clearly enjoying the silliness. It's just a pity we can't hold on to that lack of self consciousness as we get older and likewise remain responsible and open to new ideas, including being part of a much greater world, instead of being ground down by petty squabbles and local prejudice.
Perhaps we all need to go back to school once in a while!