Celebrated writer and editor of blog The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, provides advice to writers. Coates writes about social, cultural, and political issues for The Atlantic, The New York Times, and has published several books. In this short yet powerful video, Coates describes writing as an “act of courage.” He explains: “I always consider the entire process about failure, and I think that’s the reason why more people don’t write.” Coates reminds new writers that ultimately writing is about perseverance.
It has been nearly a decade since Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk, How Schools Kills Creativity. (If you haven’t seen it, click here: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity?language=en). Robinson along with Lou Aronica have recently published a book titled Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education. The text has received glowing reviews. I look forward to reading it in the very near future. Some of the reviews of the book (as listed on Amazon.com) include:
- “This book is a wake-up call to the emerging global human resources crisis. Increasing boredom, disengagement and dropouts among students have become chronic aspects of many school systems around the world. Creative Schools is a must-read for anyone who is interested in critique, vision, and theory of change for the new course of schooling.” —PASI SAHLBERG, author of Finnish Lessons 2.0: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland
- “Creative Schools is one of those rare books that not only inspires and brings a new sense of possibility to the goal of transforming education, but also lays out an actionable strategy. Ken Robinson is leading a daring revolution to change how we understand schools, learning, and most importantly, the passion and talent of our students. This is a global game-changer and I’m in.”—BRENÉ BROWN, PH.D., author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly
- “This is the book we have been waiting for from Sir Ken Robinson —laying out what is fundamentally wrong with our education systems, and correspondingly showing what and how it should and could be different. He makes creativity, and much more, come alive. Don’t start reading this book unless you have three hours before you, as you will have difficulty putting it down. Then, think about what you might do and re-read the book with others to start making the changes. Creative schools indeed! The timing is perfect.”—MICHAEL FULLAN, OC. Professor Emeritus, OISE/University of Toronto and author of The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact
Clare and I (Lydia) have enjoyed sharing the creative and clever picture books of Oliver Jeffers with the student teachers in our literacy methods courses. Jeffers, an artist, illustrator and writer, notes, “my books are all about telling stories, and a lot of my art is about asking questions…They’re an excellent platform,” he says of picture books, “With novels, things are spelled out for you. And films, things are spelled out for you a lot more. Whereas picture books, it’s up to you how much you sit on a page, sit on an image, move at your own pace. And then you’ve got two distinct and varying sets of tools at your disposal, that weave in and out of each other to create this middle ground. That’s the secret ingredient, I think, that’s what makes them such a fantastic vehicle for storytelling.” (National Post Feb 2013).
I (Lydia) have been reading and enjoying the novel Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. The novel invites readers to consider the question: What if you could live again and again until you got it right? This premise is explored through the experiences of the Todd family set against the backdrop of two world wars. Atkinson plays with narrative structure and time by repeatedly re-ordering the past and the present, as protagonist Ursula Todd and others supporting characters experience deaths, near deaths, and frequent chances to begin life anew. Each time the author reimagines one of these lives, the reader is provided with a glimpse into how the alternate choices made by a character can profoundly shift circumstances and outcomes. The novel could be read as book about the practice of writing, the practice of reading, and the complex relationship forged between author and reader. The novel repeatedly reminds the audience of the multiple choices an author makes when weaving together a narrative, and the conscious choices a reader makes to commit, or not, to the path outlined by the author. Overall, the novel provides a compelling and worthwhile read.
The Guardian published an edited version of a lecture Neil Gaiman delivered as part of the Reading Agency’s annual lecture series. In the lecture Gaiman makes an impassioned argument for the importance of libraries and the benefits of reading fiction. He compellingly notes, “prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed”.