By Rosie Tanner and Kira Taylor @kirataylor15
Rosie and I were invited to speak at the launch of the exetreme imagination festival tonight. We were amongst some brilliant speakers and were privileged to be a part of it. I’ve really enjoyed the festival so far and am looking forward to the rest of the events.
We were asked to publish the script of our talk:
My name’s Kira Taylor and I’m one of the three young bloggers, who have been working for the festival. I was asked to contribute to the festival in the summer and since have had a rollercoaster of interviews, hurriedly typed articles and meetings in the Boston Tea Party.
Working for this festival has been an amazing opportunity for me and I think I speak on behalf of all three young bloggers, when I say thank you. During my time working with exetremeimagination, the need for it has become apparent. I’ve met an eclectic mix of people and discovered little worlds I never knew about before. I’ve interviewed Emily Macaulay and Joanne Cousins about the library, Kate Osborne about the RAMM and its projects and David Almond about his work. I’ve talked to people whose brilliant work risks being otherwise unseen – places like Exeter Library, the RAMM and the Exeter Deaf Academy, places that some people know about, but far more could take advantage of.
When I first started writing, my stories always ended with “And then I woke up”. Every story I wrote ended that exact way because what I wrote couldn’t possibly be real. That was the only possible conclusion. I’d like to go back and ask myself why.
I wonder whether it’s because I knew my teacher would frown at my imagination. Now it’s even worse. Writing is becoming a formula. The mark scheme for Year 6 SATs requires children to use a “variety, clarity and accuracy of sentence structures” and “stylistic features in choice of language and technical or literary devices” – that sounds more like A-level Creative Writing.
There’s a danger that in technical precision – whether it’s a full-stop or a semi-colon – creativity can be overshadowed. SPAG is drilled into students. Spelling, punctuation and grammar. Why don’t we change it to CAN? Creativity, ambition and not caring about formula.
I know a primary school child who’s been put off writing because her imaginative story didn’t have a subordinate clause. If you’d said “subordinate clause” to me when I was ten, I would have thought it was something Santa Clause used.
Schools are focussing so much on targets, there’s no space for enjoyment. Children are forever striving to reach their target, set on a straight, narrow path with no appreciation of the scenery. There’s so much emphasis on whether it’s a verb or a noun that we’re turning English into Maths. Words into numbers. Children into numbers.
Young writers are growing more and more common by the day, but it’s only because of festivals such as exetreme imagination that these writers can really flourish and develop their writing styles. Writers need encouragement and inspiration.
Festivals such as this one serve as brilliant resources for young writers who would otherwise keep their writing hidden, never to be shown to the world. I speak as a writer myself when I say that meeting and greeting best-selling authors such as Michael Morpurgo and Meg Rosoff, and attending creative workshops such as Tiger! Tiger!, is a really helpful motivation to continue writing.
The festival is a wonderful creative outlet. It can be used to stimulate, not just students such as myself, Kira and Beth, but children of a far younger age. Events such as Caricature Fun helps to reimagine the real world, transforming children of all types and backgrounds into characters from a book or an illustration.
Workshops dealing with drama and art, such as Moose Allain’s illustration workshop and Exploratale, are absolutely wonderful ways to inspire children and adults alike, and allow their imaginations to run free. There are no limits to a person’s imagination, and festivals and workshops such as this are vital to throw the formulaic rules out of a window. They teach people to write more in the style of a human being, rather than a robot trying to fit in as many big words and complicated sentences as possible. Creativity cannot be taught, but it can be found, and it’s up to festivals like exetreme imagination to help people search.
This festival opens new channels of thought. I’ve already been challenged by Tanya Landman’s talk on racism in To Kill A Mockingbird. My narrow view of writing structure has been expanded by watching the amazing combination of subtitles and signing on the Writing With Our Hands video. I’m looking forwards to more challenges, more ways to experience writing, off and on the page. The festival thinks outside of the box, outside of the formula of writing. This dream of seeing children’s imaginations soar is one I hope never to wake up from.