Stars from Tracy Dawson's NaNoWriMo project in Parkes, Australia
Last year, I ran a number of writing workshops for teenagers in Parkes, New South Wales. I had the privilege of working in a high school with an inspirational teacher librarian, Tracy Dawson. She was willing to let me try unconventional approaches for reluctant writers, like a 6-hour course on “How To Con Your Way to a Million Dollars.”
When I wasn’t light-heartedly promoting the grifter mentality among Australian youth, I encouraged the young writers to sign up for NaNoWriMo, the awesome challenge that sees contestants committing to write a complete first-draft novel in the month of November.
The Office of Letters and Light, organisers of NaNoWriMo, have just interviewed Tracy for their blog:
You can also find Tracy’s recent guest post for my site here.
This week we have a guest post from Tracy Dawson, teacher librarian at Parkes High School in New South Wales, Australia.
I first visited Tracy’s library last year while working with the literacy scheme Paint the Town REaD. I was impressed by the vibrant, witty and hip vibe of this rural high school library – a real oasis of unconventional thought and inspiration for local teens.
Tracy did heroic work in 2011: she encouraged a group of teen writers to participate in NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program. In that program, young people commit to writing a long piece of fiction in the month of November. Parkes lacks a tradition of writing and writer’s groups, so Tracy’s success in shepherding four of her students through to completing the challenge is exceptional – especially as November is exam season for Aussie teens! See media coverage of Tracy’s young NaNoWriMo participants here.
Now over to Tracy:
I’ve taught English here at the same Australian state high school for seventeen years and was so passionate about my subject; I never imagined I would change focus.
But a period of time in which I became disillusioned with the education system and society’s attitude to education in general made me rethink my career, and retrain as a Teacher Librarian. I’ve ended up in the same school – the same school I attended as a teenager! – which some people would say is like being stuck in a drought stricken billabong. But a move up the stairs and out of the classroom has invigorated me, my relationship with colleagues and students, my love of literature and my belief that teachers make a difference.
You think you know fear?
I was only knee-deep in icy seawater, but that was enough. Beside me, a half-dozen anxious Moms formed a loose human chain. We were trying to cordon off a horde of 6-year-olds, cheerfully running amok at the water’s edge. My eyes flicked around the shoreline, trying to keep track of each and every child. I’d been teaching for less than a year and the safety of these happy, heedless kids was my responsibility.
You think you know fear? Try taking a class of 1st graders to the beach.
This week on Role/Reboot, you can see my piece The Man Without Fear: Heroism and Elementary School.
Paint the Town REaD comes to Canberra - Barbie Bates & Rhonda Brain visit David Bradbury MP
Australia’s National Year of Reading 2012 was launched today, 14 February, in the capital city, Canberra.
My colleagues Barbie and Rhonda of Paint the Town REaD were on hand to celebrate the launch with David Bradbury, MP for Penrith.
Dr Matt Finch with Behind the Book's Comic Workshop in Brooklyn, NYC
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been appointed to the Advisory Board of Behind the Book, the non-profit organisation which gives students in NYC public schools the chance to learn from published authors and illustrators.
Further to my work designing K-12 curriculum for Behind the Book in 2011, I’ll be supporting them as they build sustained creative partnerships between authors, students and educators across New York City.
You can find out more about Behind the Book here: http://www.behindthebook.org/about_who.html
Coming soon on this site – guest blogging from the high school library that’s a hipster oasis in rural Australia, and a new piece bringing together superheroes, elementary school and gender studies.
When I ran workshops for high schoolers at the University of London, I always encouraged the students to discuss gender roles. Whenever possible, I included sessions on Angela Carter, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, and the great Leonora Carrington.
Two different faces of the US Marshals in Justified
This week, I’ve got a new piece up at the culture and gender site Role/Reboot, discussing the TV show Justified.
In ‘The Marshal and His Women’, I ask if this sharply written show will have a positive impact on definitions of masculinity, or merely perpetuate the same old stereotypes.
You can read my thoughts on Justified at http://www.rolereboot.org/life/details/2012-01-the-marshal-and-his-women-can-tvs-justified-reboot-t
For more on Angela Carter, see my review of a 2010 youth theatre adaptation of her collection The Bloody Chamber, at http://thefairytalecupboard.blogspot.com/2010/05/guest-post-matthew-finch-on-playbox.html