23rd November 2007 at 00:00
Billy Childish, the maverick artist, poet and songwriter, has attacked the drudgery of modern schooling, claiming it is more damaging for pupils than corporal punishment.

The 47-year-old would like to see creative subjects, such as art and PE, made compulsory, while maths and literacy are relegated.

"I think we were better off in the 1970s, with corporal punishment, than children are now," he said. "Today, children face all these pressures to achieve. It's unkind and mean-spirited."

Mr Childish (above) will publish a novel on December 1 charting the adventures of a dyslexic schoolboy. The Idiocy of Idears has already attained cult status after copies were left in bookshops with a note encouraging customers to take them.

The plot is based on Mr Childish's experiences as a Kent schoolboy in the 1970s. At primary school, he was placed in remedial classes and he left secondary school with no qualifications, He was subsequently diagnosed with dyslexia.

Later, he trained at Medway College of Design, where he had an affair with fellow artist Tracey Emin.

"I knew I was dyslexic," he said. "because I was quite smart but teachers told me I was backwards."

Mr Childish believes that creativity, rather than literacy and numeracy, should be prioritised, and that pupils should have plenty of "fresh air and movement".

"It's a shame to make children's lives drudgery," he said "There will be plenty of time for that when they leave school."

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