I love visiting schools. There’s a humbling, Homeric magic in the sight of a crowd of children sitting down waiting to listen to your story. A few months ago, however, a lovely young NQT stepped between me and that crowd and said: “Now we are very lucky to have Frank with us today. We’re going to use our Listening Skills (she touched her ears) to try and spot his Wow Words (what?) and his Connectives so that we can appreciate how he builds the story.” Imagine going on a date with her. “We’re going to have some proteins. Some carbs – not too many – and conversation. If you make me laugh, that’s a physical reaction so it puts you on the erotic spectrum and you might get lucky.”
That’s from “schools are destroying the power of stories” an extract from Frank Cotrell Boyce’s David Fickling Lecture. And if you don’t know Frank Cotrell Boyce’s work you should. In addition to being a screenwriter and one of those who came up with the idea of the queen parachuting into England’s Olympic opening ceremony, he is the author of Millions, Framed, and my personal favorite Cosmic (I’m doing my yearly read aloud of it right now) as well as a trio of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sequels — they are fabulous middle grade books.