Partly to illustrate hope, activities which cast forward and stimulate creativity – as a break from engagement with crisis. We recognise that not all newly arrived residents fit this category, of course.
The Arts can include any welcoming, inclusive creative activity that supports newly arrived or minority community members.
Enterprise/Business can be services, free at the point of delivery, which will add to the enterprise creation expertise and knowledge of our communities of interest.
If you have a group, or project, that welcomes any new arrivals or BME community members in these categories, drop us a line and we’ll add it to our community gazette.
If you write a 100 words or so to tell us what you do, that would be great too. We will support contributors by using our publication skills to develop and promote the work of groups.
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”.
We were putting together some training material for social enterprise development at the office, doing the day job, and rediscovered this Ted Talk by Jason Fried, founder of 37 Signals and the author of Rework.
It’s been a useful tool in the past to get groups to think about the nature of work, their place in it and how to react to the pressure of meetings and interruptions.
Fried makes some telling points about the quality of the interrupted process when we gather in the office. It is, of course, a gentle trumpet for the remote worker and the internet connected working life.
None the less, the argument about how offices are ‘factories for interruption’ and only real work takes place when individuals are ‘remote’ is telling. He also looks at the need for creatives – authors, designers, engineers etc., to access quiet space. As well as debunking the old management myth ‘…if I can’t see you, you can’t be working‘. More often sounded in the 21st Century than you might think.
We like his summary points at the end. Go on, cancel that meeting today!
This interesting new RSA Animate looks at a revolution that is needed in teacher development. Work consigns teachers, it argues, to becoming victims who are trapped by the systems they operate within.
The goal should be to make change-makers, who are authors of their own pedagogy.
The essay collection which supports the argument posits that schools are conditioned by a command and control culture, which ignores creativity in delivery. The teacher, it argues, strives to educate whilst coping with a top down culture of compliance.
To best serve learners, and the professional development needs of teachers, there should be a methodology available that echoes and supports the research which shows students, who have the best teachers, can learn at twice the rate of other students.
The final essay from the collection is by Tristram Hunt, Shadow Secretary of State for Education. In the introduction to The Rationale for Revalidation: a movement to transform teaching, Hunt states…
The teaching profession is changing. One year into this job there are few things of which I am more certain. If this collection of essays achieves nothing else then it will be to highlight how the energy unleashed by this cultural shift has the potential to become a force for far-reaching education reform.
Whether you are just beginning your professional teaching career, ending it or are just passionate about education…there is much to think about in this RSA report.
To echo the perceptive analysis in this collection of essays, and to underscore how the change in pedagogy, the re-processing of education in general for the benefit of future generations is an ongoing project. We re-looked at Ken Robinson’s TED Talk How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.
Robinson, speaking and living in the USA, argues for change to support young people who drop out of school, and those who remain it, but who stay disengaged from the education process.
This is not a new message from Ken Robinson, but it is witty and discursive as well as telling, placing the young person at the centre of change in education.
A nice counterpoint to, and contextualision of, the thought processes and ideas revealed in our RSA essay collection above.
Matthew Taylor has produced a new RSA Short to accompany the current drive to embrace creativity across society. See it below…
Matthew draws from his recent RSA Chief Executive’s lecture.
The message, that we should all embrace our creativity, is a telling one. Rigid thinking can bring with it the warm comfort of supposed ‘certainty’. However, to the creative mind ‘…every individual has the freedom and opportunity to develop their unique capabilities to the full’.
Oliver Reichardt, the RSA Director of Fellowship states that ‘…this concept will be central to our work(The RSA) in the future’. We warm to the sentiment at conversationsEast.
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