How laughter and uselessness earn their place

16th June 2006 at 01:00
It isn't the silly season yet. That point in the political year when weighty news is slow and papers are filled with eccentric and delightful "unimportant" stories doesn't hit until nearly August. But let me jump the gun and say a few words in favour of silliness and the "unimportant".

Kevin Jones, whose St John's college school's Year 2s produced the fantastically silly play about Barbies and Kens (see below), has a policy called fun, laughter and uselessness (Flu). I don't think it's one he hauls out when the inspectors call; in fact, he doesn't tell the children about it directly, but he takes it very seriously. He wants every child in his school to catch Flu. And, as he implies, it actually takes skill and hard work from teachers.

"Drama is not about stars or making mothers shed fond tears," Mr Jones says. "It is about enacting, experiencing, discovering and confirming a sense of community. It is about finding oneself. And every child should have the right to this."

Now that Sats are over, it's easier for schools to remember how crucial those unimportant moments can be. Some spontaneous singing or dancing; a joke that has everyone on the floor; a pointless run through the playground. A very silly end-of-term play that has children stretching their imaginations for terrible puns and weird things to wear.

And rule number one: don't forget to break the rules. Poet Michael Rosen, who presented the TES Write Away awards to gifted junior autobiographers last week at London's Globe Theatre, was full of praise for young writers who had the courage and confidence to do just that. Using sentences with no verb. "Flowers and chocolate biscuits." That was the opening sentence to 10-year-old Damask Talary-Brown's story about a much-loved neighbour. Come to think of it, don't forget those either, as the term draws near its end.

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