"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

28 July 2019


This is why I’m so passionately against the notion that children should make a plan before writing stories at school. Don’t! Write the story first. See what you’ve got and then you can make a plan. They’re taught by idiots who don’t know how to do it themselves. It’s like saying, “I’m going to teach you to play the piano. I can’t play the piano myself, but this note is C … now you start playing Chopin.” It’s just stark, flaming ignorance.

What angers me now is that in order to acquire a sort of humane education where you’re allowed to enjoy books and experience the arts, you have to be the child of rich parents. There’s no problem with the artistic and aesthetic education you get if you go to Eton or Winchester. But if you go to St Swine’s Academy, run by some carpet manufacturer somewhere, you have to do what the government tells you, and then it’s all about these SATs and tests and the imposition of trivial rubbish like fronted adverbials. If you’re not the sort of child who thrives in exams then you’re written off. The cruelty passes belief. It’s based on a lack of empathy, lack of basic decency on the part of the government.

Philip Pullman

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