Culture vulture

3rd June 2005 at 01:00
Ashley Martin soothes his class with Einaudi's piano music

Best book ever

I like general non-fiction: history and travel writing. Rather like the boys in my class; they go for non-fiction, murder mysteries and sports books. I'm reading Himalaya by Michael Palin (pictured) at the moment. My best book ever is a book I read as a child, Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton. I couldn't tell you what happens in it, but I have wonderful memories of reading it with my parents and then over and over and over by myself.

Favourite films

Action movies: Indiana Jones, Blade, The Matrix. I like a film called Coyote Ugly, about a young girl leaving home to fulfil her dream of becoming a songwriter.

Music while you work

I play piano and violin, and I sing. I give my class the option of pop or classical music while they work, and there's an even split between the two.

Bruch's violin concerto is a big favourite. And anything by Einaudi. He's a modern Italian composer who writes brilliant, calming piano music.

On cue

I play golf and badminton, but I've also got into snooker. I go to a snooker hall with a friend. I really admire the professionals: how do they make those shots? There are so many balls on the table, you have to think, "If I put a bit of spin in that direction, then the cue ball is going to travel there, there and there". You're constantly thinking about your next shot. It's a challenge: I visualise what I want to happen, and I'm very pleased if something similar comes about.

Treat in store

I love Harry Potter. I discovered the books when I was teaching at a village school in an affluent area, where children as young as seven were coming in reading JK Rowling. I hadn't read any and thought it was all hype and probably rubbish. A girl in my Year 3 class asked: "Have you actually read it?" I said no, so she said: "Borrow my copy." I just read the first chapter, gave it back and went out and bought my own.

Ashley Martin, 28, teaches Year 5 at Pinehurst junior in Swindon, where a recent reading project eliminated a 35 per cent gap between boys' and girls' literacy achievement. He was talking to Karen Gold

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