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Words, Wonderful Words!

Thursday, 05 March 2015

Senior School boys at Bolton School enjoyed a day absorbed in words and stories during this year’s World Book Day.

The morning began with an inspirational opening address to a full assembly from Dr Livi Michael of Manchester Metropolitan University who was accompanied by Iris Feindt, the School’s Writer in Residence, who brought with her fellow authors from the Manchester Writing School. Her talk, focussing on “The Use of Reading and Writing to Establish an Eloquent and Individual Voice”, reminded the audience how we, as humans, have always told stories. Storytelling, she reminded the audience, is an integral part of a teacher’s toolkit and we are all often required to tell our own story – in job interviews and when engaging in new relationships and friendships. She explained how reading is a process of turning words into images and how writing is this process in reverse. Today was not just about being good at English or reading and writing but about having fun! She then introduced the Manchester Writing School authors, who would carry out workshops across the School during the day. All were published writers in either the Crimelines or Timelines anthologies of short stories.

Over lunch, the writers enjoyed two lively debates with the Senior Literary and Debating Society discussing the decision to drop classic American literature texts from the syllabus and the decision to publish the Mockingbird sequel: Go Set a Watchman; and with the Junior Literary and Debating Society where boys and Iris Feindt adopted literary characters and argued passionately why they should not be thrown out of an imaginary hot air balloon. One by one they were removed – Harry Potter, James Bond and Voldemort until the final was fought out by Lannister from Game of Thrones, Willy Wonka and Alex Ryder, with the latter winning out. Having saved the world many times, the audience felt that the young secret agent deserved to be saved himself!

Throughout the day, all year groups engaged with the ten writers who shared their knowledge, experience and top tips with the boys. The group of writers comprised MA students in children’s literature, a writer for LEGO comic, teachers and a management consultant. The workshops focussed on ways into writing and included character questionnaires to flesh out key roles and character reversals and the use of props in helping build the impetus behind plot events. Boys were then challenged to write an outline of a story and to produce openings and key scenarios.

A delighted Miss Naomi Lord, who organised the event, said: “This has been a highly enjoyable day and our pupils have benefitted enormously from having direct access to experienced authors. There have been some wonderful examples of writing and the boys have been thoroughly engaged and inspired by today.”

During the course of the day, Year 8 boys proudly displayed their cross-curricular Art and English World Book Day Project work, having created microcosms or thematically reductive versions of their favourite novels with accompanying poetic synopses.

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Authors from the Manchester Writing School shared their expertise with our Senior School boys

Authors from the Manchester Writing School shared their expertise with our Senior School boys

Boys used props to fire their imagination in terms of building personality traits for their characters

Boys used props to fire their imagination in terms of building personality traits for their characters and storylines

Dr Livi Michael

Dr Livi Michael from Manchester Metropolitan University gave an opening address to the whole school assembly - click on a photo to enlarge it