It’s that time of year again. We are packing our notebooks, pencils and cameras for a series of editorial visits, as usual, to the Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2016.
22nd October till the 12th November 2016.
”The Chelmsford Ideas Festival aims to stimulate and inspire people through a set of innovative events, talks and workshops”.
With a much improved web site this year, you can find a range of activities and interests to stimulate the intellect across a variety of themes. Each category of event has its own diary section. See below for what might interest you most.
To book individual workshops and events simply open the calendar entry on the web page to get full details of the event and how to book.
Highlights from the programme? We liked…
Rooted Art – Public Art Workshops 25th October, 2016 10.00 to 12.00
‘Let’s make history! Join Artist Nick Haydon (known for his large scale printmaking) and Artist Victoria Button in creating a massive historic mural in Chelmsford city centre, depicting stories of the city’s heritage. Funded by Essex County Council’.
Chat About the Old Days – 27th October and 27th November, 2016 – 14.00 to 16.30
‘Come along to this free session – enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and a cake for just £1 and join us in reminiscing about the ‘old days’. (Don’t forget: even teenagers have an ‘old days’ – what do you remember about times past?)
Our idea is to have a jolly good nostalgic chat session over a cup of tea and then for some of the memories and stories that come out to form the basis of a new community artwork to be displayed at the Ideas Hub. Maybe it will be the start of a series of artworks…who knows?’
ESA’S COPERNICUS PROGRAMME: How is E2V protecting Planet earth? 24th October 19:00 – 21:00
‘Paul Jerram is Chief Engineer for Space Imaging at e2v, Chelmsford. Headquartered in Chelmsford, e2v is bringing life to technology and employs 1750 people globally. e2v partners with customers to provide world-class image sensors and detection subsystems that can help solve the mysteries of the Universe, understand climate change on Earth and much, much more…’
Event follows the Festival launch at Anglia Ruskin University.
The Ideas Festival Chelmsford, 22nd October till the 12th November 2016, is certainly now a premier intellectual and cultural landmark in the regional festival landscape. Visit the web site and book to join in the work. You will not be disappointed.
Part of our work, with sister projects, is as booksellers and publishers. It has been interesting to reflect that we are in a continuing tradition, dating back to the 18th Century.
When we are talking to our partner publishers, or delivering projects overseas, it all feels rather contemporary. But good writing and creative, imaginative work for children is what led us to the work in the first place. It is a timeless pursuit for every cohort we supply and engage with over the years.
Matthew Grenby writes…
”The rise of children’s literature throughout the 18th century.
By the end of the 18th century, children’s literature was a flourishing, separate and secure part of the publishing industry in Britain. Perhaps as many as 50 children’s books were being printed each year, mostly in London, but also in regional centres such as Edinburgh, York and Newcastle.
By today’s standards, these books can seem pretty dry, and they were often very moralising and pious. But the books were clearly meant to please their readers, whether with entertaining stories and appealing characters, the pleasant tone of the writing, or attractive illustrations and eye-catching page layouts and bindings.
Early writing for children
This was new. At the beginning of the century very few such enjoyable books for children had existed. Children read, certainly, but the books that they probably enjoyed reading (or hearing) most, were not designed especially for them.
Fables were available, and fairy stories, lengthy chivalric romances, and short, affordable pamphlet tales and ballads called chapbooks, but these were published for children and adults alike. Take Nathaniel Crouch’s Winter-Evenings Entertainments (1687). It contains riddles, pictures, and ‘pleasant and delightful relations of many rare and notable accidents and occurrences’ which has suggested to some that it should be thought of as an early children’s book. However, its title-page insists that it is ‘excellently accommodated to the fancies of old or young’.
Meanwhile, the books that were published especially for children before the mid-18th century were almost always remorselessly instructional (spelling books, school books, conduct books) or deeply pious. Yet just because a book seems dull or disciplinary to us today, this doesn’t mean that children at the time didn’t enjoy it. Godly books of the sort produced from the 1670s by Puritans like John Bunyan are a case in point.
James Janeway’s A Token for Children (1671-72) gives what its subtitle describes as ‘an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children’. These children lie on their deathbeds, giving accounts of the sins too often committed by children – idleness, disobedience, inattention to lessons, boisterousness, neglecting the Sabbath – but tell those assembled round them that salvation awaits all who renounce such wickedness, and they explain how happy they are to be going to their eternal reward. Hardly fun, we might think, yet memoirs and letters, as well as continuing sales over more than a century, testify to young readers’ genuine enjoyment of these descriptions of heroic and confident, if doomed, children.
The 18th century
In the first half of the 18th century a few books that didn’t have an obviously instructional or religious agenda were published especially for children, such as A Little Book for Little Children (c.1712), which included riddles and rhymes ; and a copiously illustrated bestiary, A Description of Three Hundred Animals (1730), the second part of which was published ‘particularly for the entertainment of youth’.
But the turning point came in the 1740s, when a cluster of London publishers began to produce new books designed to instruct and delight young readers.
Thomas Boreman was one, who followed his Description of Three Hundred Animals with a series of illustrated histories of London landmarks jokily (because they were actually very tiny) called the Gigantick Histories (1740-43). Another was Mary Cooper, whose two-volume Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (1744) is the first known nursery rhyme collection, featuring early versions of well-known classics like ‘Bah, bah, a black sheep’, ‘Hickory dickory dock’, ‘London Bridge is falling down’ and ‘Sing a song of sixpence’.
The father of children’s literature
But the most celebrated of these pioneers is John Newbery, whose first book for the entertainment of children was A Little Pretty Pocket-Book Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly (c.1744).
It was indeed a pretty book, small, neat and bound in brightly coloured paper, and Newbery advertised it as being sold with a ball (for a boy) and a pincushion (for a girl) – these toys were to be used to record the owner’s good and bad deeds (by means of pins stuck either to the black side of the ball or pincushion, or the red). Newbery’s books perfectly embodied the educational ideas of John Locke, who had advocated teaching through amusement.
But Newbery has become known as the ‘father of children’s literature’ chiefly because he was able to show that publishing children’s books could be a commercial success. This may have been because he made most of his money from selling patent medicines, and by publishing for adults
Nevertheless, his children’s book business flourished, and, following his death in 1767, it was taken over by his descendants, surviving into the 19th century. Newbery was a great innovator too. He produced the first children’s periodical for example, called The Lilliputian Magazine (1751-52), a miscellany of stories, verse, riddles and chatty editorials.
And his most famous work, The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes (1765) has a good claim to be called the first children’s novel. It tells the story of a poor orphan, Margery, who makes a career for herself as a teacher before, like a less glamorous Cinderella (with no fairy godmother, balls to attend, or glass slipper), she marries the local landowner who she has impressed by her honesty, hard work and good sense.
A rapid expansion of children’s literature
The reasons for this sudden rise of children’s literature have never been fully explained. The entrepreneurial genius of figures like Newbery undoubtedly played a part, but equally significant were structural factors, including the growth of a sizeable middle class, technical developments in book production, the influence of new educational theories, and changing attitudes to childhood.
Whatever the causes, the result was a fairly rapid expansion of children’s literature through the second half of the 18th century, so that by the early 1800s, the children’s book business was booming. For the first time it was possible for authors to make a living out of writing solely for children, and to become famous for it. Children’s literature, as we know it today, had begun”.
Continuing our theme of ‘Northern Energy’, we were in Newcastle upon Tyne this week and, on Friday afternoon, took time to visit Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books. They have an important exhibition and research project into the donated archive of the writer Michael Morpurgo. Below is what we thought.
”Michael Morpurgo Exhibition 2 July 2016 – Sunday 2 July 2017, Newcastle UK. A Lifetime in Stories.
Through one of our our sister projects, Books go Walkabout, an international delivery system to get authors, illustrators and poets, and their books, to corners of the world previously unreached, we have an abiding interest in children’s literature as you would expect.
The Seven Stories Morpurgo exhibition is certainly about a fantastic canon of work dedicated to the young imagination. However, the research team have extracted illustrative and delightful insights into, and evidence of, the writing process, using the archive generously donated to the Centre by Michael Morpurgo in 2015.
What the display and featured narrative does offer, in the broadest terms, is an insight into the creative process, the research and writing of a book, much of which in this Seven Stories gallery has taken place before the arrival and dominance of the word processor.
Not only an exhibition in praise of the work of Michael Morpurgo, but an illustration in itself of what can be achieved with a simple notebook and a pen or pencil. The imagination does not need an elecrical socket and plug to thrive apparently!
Some key exhibition elements:
Michael Morpurgo was born in 1943, and his early life was beset by sadness and conflicting tensions. It was interesting to see the detail of Michael’s school, home life and reaction to his early experiences in the British Army. This thematic thread of war and militarism can be traced through the exhibition, as in Michael’s life. His mother’s grief at the loss of her brother in the Second World War was an equally powerful emotional driver for the writing.
In 1962 Michael met his future wife Clare, and it was the summons home by his mother, with the pretence of an imaginary illness, that offered the opportunity for them to get married, against the prevailing condition that cadets of the Royal Military College Sandhurst must be single. A signal turning point in a creative life which solidified his pacifism, well evidenced and illustrated by this exhibition.
His first short book, published in 1974, was It Never Rained, an interconnected narrative about five children. By 1999 Mopurgo was ready to publish Wombat Goes Walkabout, with wonderful illustrations by Christian Birmingham. A great story about digging holes and how a wombat can save the day.
1982 saw the release of War Horse, perhaps Mopurgo’s most famous creation. The exhibition offers the visitor a display of many of the notebooks, first drafts, corrections and re-typed double spaced manuscripts that drove the creation of this seminal work.
This series of displays offers, we thought, a powerful illustration of how writing is both a physical and an intellectually layered process, but which requires a gritty determination to see the story through to the final end – publication. It is this revisiting and deterministic approach to his craft of writing that makes a Mopurgo novel so dramatic and engaging we suspect.
In the exhibition narrative Michael Morpurgo states that his engagement with a story ‘…can be measured by the size of his handwriting in his notebooks‘. The smaller the hand written text the more intensely the creative muse has gripped him that day.
To an archivist this is vital in determining the writers emotional condition on any particular creative day. As his pen moves rapidly across the notebook page, Michael has left a marker, a measure of intensity, for later researchers seeking to determine his emotional or creative state. Something a plastic keyboard, no matter how powerful the micro-processor it is connected to, could ever offer the interested reader in years to come.
Looking at the Morpurgo ‘war’ material, we pondered on what must be a pivotal issue for the contemporary archivist or researcher. With ready access to technology, publishing processes and cloud storage – how will future archivists and seekers of process engage with material that is electronic and resting, potentially, in a thousand different formats, storage facilities and locations around the globe.
Interestingly, MIT Technology Review has just published an article on the use of computing and data mining techniques to show that there are, it contests, only six basic ’emotional arcs’ in storytelling. These are…
…a steady, ongoing rise in emotional valence, as in a rags-to-riches story such as Alice’s Adventures Underground by Lewis Carroll. A steady ongoing fall in emotional valence, as in a tragedy such as Romeo and Juliet. A fall then a rise, such as the man-in-a-hole story, discussed by Vonnegut. A rise then a fall, such as the Greek myth of Icarus. Rise-fall-rise, such as Cinderella. Fall-rise-fall, such as Oedipus.
We are intense users of the notebook and pen ourselves, in our ordinary workaday lives, but have to recognise that research and analysis would now be immeasurably diminished without technology. We wondered, travelling through the Michael Morpurgo exhibition, an historical audit trail of the creative mind, what other contemporary children’s and young adult writers take on ‘techno’ is today?
Perhaps this is a Seven Stories seminar series in the making? Pen or Processor, the creative methodology in contemporary children’s literature. We would buy a ticket! (Ed.)
A visual treat:
Towards the end of the exhibition content is a section dedicated to Michael Morpurgo’s artistic collaborators, the artists who have contributed to the written work.
It offers the visitor a fascinating insight into how the imagination is populated by the story, how the psyche is suggested a character and landscape by Michael Morpurgo’s writing. It is also, within the context of this article, a soaring endorsement of the power and durability of putting a hand to paper. Surely no machine can replace the creative evocation of story by the artists below?
The work on display includes artwork from Quentin Blake, Gary Blythe, Peter Bailey, Christian Brimingham and Tony Kerins amongst others. We particularly warmed to the diversity of images in the exhibition that depicted the sea. Whether Kensuke’s Kingdom or When the Wales Came, the original cover art to be seen provokes an imaginative dream of action, wind, water and a tale to be told.
It was wonderful to see this collection of individual artistic work within the context of the Seven Stories Michael Morpurgo exhibition. But each artist has a separate body of work which is lively, imagination capturing and enchanting in equal measure. We hope you can use the links above to explore this on-line collection ‘gallery of galleries’ too.
Getting to Seven Stories NE! 2PQ :
If you leave the impressive Newcastle Central Station and turn right down towards Quayside, you can turn left along Quayside and walk, past the Pitcher and Piano until you come to St. Ann’s Steps on the left. Ascend them. At the top, look back down the river to the bridges receding into the distance. Turn and cross the road and right down to Cut Bank on the left, following the river left along for a couple of hundred yards and Seven Stories will apppear on your right.
The journey there, if the sun is shining, can be as uplifting as your visit to The National Centre for Children’s Books. This is a fascinating insight into the work of our national story teller. Seven Stories offers a whole rainbow of experience around ‘the children’s book’, whether a holidaying family looking to stimulate young imaginations, a visit to the cafe and bookshop, or a serious academic look at the sweep of children’s literature.
‘Seven Stories was able to support the acquisition from Michael Morpurgo through support from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Collecting Cultures’ programme, which has been awarded to Seven Stories in recognition of the museum’s national role in telling a comprehensive story of modern British children’s literature’.
Source: Seven Stories web site. Accessed 09.07.2016 See http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/collection/collection-highlights/michael-morpurgo
The North as a digital, innovative powerhouse for change and growth…
The great Northern Powerhouse concept has it’s detractors, as well as those who warmly embrace vast spendiing on infrastructure projects betwixt North and South. The whole designed to energise a swathe of our country, and its economic and social infrastructure, at a stroke.
Larry Elliot, writing recently in The Guardian, declares that the Centre for Cities think tank has the right view and that George Osborne is wrong. Namely that investment is needed in cities and conurbations ‘North of Watford’ in order to achieve the right mix of enterprise, social energy and innovation.
In his article Elliot looks at the productivity and infrastructure links between several Randstadt and Rhine-Ruhr cities. Already much more productive than similar cities in the North of England, he argues, the real difference is that investment has been made in the cities, not between them.
Whether transport, high speed internet or enterprise culture are stimulated, the key difference on the Ruhr/Randstat axis is the level of skills available to feed growth in research, output and market identification, he argues.
A new RSA report argues ‘… for a departure from the usual way of ‘doing tech’, where digital businesses operate in siloes, often untethered from the places in which they operate. It is within the North’s gift to forge a different path…’
It is this focus on the sub-region, on the drivers of city based innovation, that when aggregated as evidence creates a new paradigm of achievement for the wider region. The sweeping gesture, the Osborneian grand statement, is proven only by examining the microeconomic context of the city regions as an ensemble, we would argue.
In this new report from the RSA (.pdf), Benedict Dellot et al approach the North of England with this city hinterland and regional sectoral analysis in mind.
The new work, Digital Powerhouse (.pdf), uses the digital economy of the north of England as both metaphor and research instance to examine and make suggestions for development. The findings are striking…
‘…the North’s digital economy is creating jobs at ten time the rate of the region’s non-digital sectors. In the last five years the productivity of the digital economy grew by 11.3%. The figure was 2.5% for the non-digital economy’. Source: Infographic, p.2 of Digital Powerhouse
The DIgital Powerhouse report makes fourteen profound recommendations to capitalise on the digital premium recognised in the North of England.
These range from the creation of a ‘Procurement Powerhouse’ social enterprise to link tech businesses with public sector procurement processes. An adjunct to this suggestion is a move to persuade public sector commissioners and buyers to declare a ‘problem based’ commissioning approach, affording opportunities for innovators and researchers in the tech sphere to be just that, innovative, in order to get a seat at the table of ‘government spend’.
Similarly Dellot et al call for a new ‘contract portal’, suggested to bring together opportunities to supply both the public and private sectors with tech innovation. Also on the supply side, the report suggests the championing of ‘tech co-operatives’ in the North. Striving to achieve critical mass and drive to market by tech innovators in the North, through closer co-operation and affiliation.
The regional recommendation aspect of the report make it easy to argue that this research could be the basis of a meta-development framework of policy and practice for any region with growing technology sectors. North or South.
As Eileen Burbidge, Chair of Tech City UK says in the report ‘…this report shines a brilliant light on all the assets and opportunities already underway which serve as a foundation for the growth of the new Digital Northern Powerhouse‘. Source: Burbidge, introduction: p.5 Digital Powerhouse
If you would like more information about this event, or how to support children and young people with Type 1 Diabetes, and support the work of JDRF, you can email the fundraising team here – cjoseph (at) jdrf.otg.uk
‘There are currently 400,000 people in the UK with type 1 diabetes, over 29,000 of them are children.
We are committed to eradicating type 1 diabetes and its effects for everyone in the UK with type 1, and at risk of developing it’. Source JDRF web pages/2016
The conversationsEAST team are steadfast in their support of JDRF. The charity’s fundraising team at JDRF are committed, enthusiastic and ethical…with a boundless energy to match. We recommend you support them too.
They would make a great ‘most favoured ‘ charity for your organisation too.
Can you help create business builders for the next generation?
Linking Education and Business – A New Approach
Continuing our thematic coverage of new ways to support young people and the education and training sector, we were very pleased to see the emerging detail of the Enterprise Adviser Network for schools in Norfolk and Suffolk. Members of the business community volunteering some time to support schools in developing their enterprise agenda.
Contact the project in our region here: CareersEnterpriseCompany@suffolk.gov.uk
A new national programme is taking shape across Norfolk and Suffolk that aims to adopt an innovative approach to bringing business and education closer together. The New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network aims to connects local high profile business leaders with senior leaders in local secondary schools, academies, colleges in order to helping to motivate and inspire young peoples’ career aspirations, to make a major impact on their work prospects.
Enterprise Advisers will be volunteer leaders from the Suffolk and Norfolk business community. Their role will be to provide strategic consultancy and advice to schools and colleges to improve employer engagement and careers guidance provision and thereby help bridge the gap between education and business, raise young peoples’ aspirations and enhance enterprise and employability skills.
Suffolk County Councillor Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills said: “We do need to increase the interaction between the education and the business community, making sure Suffolk school children have the skill set required to find work and prove themselves valuable assets to commercial companies”.
Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, commented: “If we want to compete and win on a world stage we need to deliver a higher skilled workforce for our growing economy and for the all the thousands of outstanding companies, innovators and entrepreneurs that are already based here and for the many more we want to attract. We can help do that by placing business leaders at the heart of the education system, to inspire young minds when they are seeking out their future paths and looking to match their talents and aspirations with a high value and rewarding career.”
The New Anglia Enterprise Adviser Network is supported by five Enterprise Coordinators who will provide business leaders, schools and colleges with a professional service which includes high quality training, matching Enterprise Advisers to schools and colleges and extensive, ongoing support.
The project is looking for enthusiastic business people across Norfolk and Suffolk to work with schools to help our young people understand the connection between their education and the world of work.
If you have the motivation and dedication to help young people find out more about the opportunities for their future career please get in touch…
Content for this article courtesy of Suffolk County Council.
We were delighted to hear that JDRF, our favourite Eastern Region charity here at the conversationsEAST offices, have been chosen as one of the Cambridge News Cash for the Community featured participants.
Cambridge News are providing their readers with the opportunity to clip coupons from the paper, starting with twenty four coupons on Monday, which readers can then use to vote for their favourite regional charitable good cause.
We think there is a new energy abroad in education and training, sweeping the landscape to create new opportunities and outcome for a range of young people. Discover a couple of examples of this new delivery below…the horizon may have just go a bit nearer for young people who don’t seem to quite ‘fit the traditional bill’.
Swarm can offer young people Level 2, 3 and 4 apprenticeship framework options, with the added zest of ‘…innovative enterprise training workshops which develop the mindset and commercial awareness of apprentices’.
You can discover a comprehensive list of the integrated Swarm developmental workshops here. This impressive cast list is designed to sensitise and energise apprentices into an entrepreneurial, developmental and goals achieving mindset.
The Swarm team’s key focus qualification is the Level 3 Diploma in Enterprising Skills in a Business Environment, although the company does offer other opportunities too.
What we liked most is how this entrepreneurial flavour and admixture is seamlessly blended into the training programme for the individual, combining both the needs of the apprentice to perform well to his or her employer’s satisfaction, whilst at the same time creating the building blocks for a mind-changing mentality about what it is possible to achieve.
You can see how the next generation of mainstream Oxbridge business and political leaders are seeking to develop a social good from their careers, for example, in the 80,000 Hours programme. This Ashton led initiative caters for bright young people, we think, who may have fallen through the educational cracks or who are seeking a very practical, resource driven approach to learning and skills uptake to the benefit of business, society and the individual.
We highly commend the Swarm Apprenticeship approach to our readers. See more here.
This new, innovative scheme seeks to engage schools and suitably qualified businesses in a new form of partnership, where the school benefits from the insights and experience of the employer in a ‘… network to create powerful, lasting connections between local businesses and the schools and colleges in an area‘.
It is an idea designed to see businesses helping school senior management teams to develop strategies which link the world of work to the curriculum and energetic adaptability of schools, maximising their local contacts and accelerating the context of their educational outcomes to the benefit of both pupils and employers.
Lord Young has described the Adviser role in this way…
“I propose that Enterprise Advisers would advise head teachers and teachers on the ways employers can engage with the school, drawing on advice from key local partners, including those that offer careers advice. I would envisage that the Advisers are drawn from all sectors of the economy and not only restricted to entrepreneurs‘.
The one is not designed to swamp the other, but to add a richer texture to the offer of all. RSA Fellows can also add a powerful contribution to the development of the Enterprise Adviser network too, we are sure.
In simple marketing and recruitment terms, if I’m building a trusted network or list of individuals dedicated to social good, then lets share some of that trust and fellowship with others in the public sector, striving for the same aim.
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