Eighteen years ago, HRH and I made the standard middle-class decision to send our first-born to a posh school. Off he went in the oversized blazer armed with weighty school bag, sports bag and high expectations. After three weeks he burst through the door, threw his school bag on the kitchen floor and muttered ”It’s boring. English is boring.”
How did I respond? I did something a bit odd. I wrote him a book. A novel had been kicking around inside my head for some time. In fact, I had read him many of the ”boy” classics: Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and, dare I add, Richmal Crompton’s hilarious Just William series. During this time I actually dreamt the novel. When Mr Reluctant Reader started complaining, I whacked the novel down on paper over three weeks and fed him one chapter at a time. He loved it.
Nicko, the 13-year-old lead character, is one of those kids seldom recognised in education. Let’s be honest. Schools seem to only make a fuss over the top, say, 10 per cent of academic students, a few sports stars and some classically trained musicians. Nicko, however, was one of those kids (and there are hundreds like him) who are smart but not in a way school wants them to be smart. I taught many, many Nickos and I adored them. Let me give you some examples.
Read more The Canberra Times, 24 Jul 2012: Sometimes It’s the Class Clown that Performs Well in Life