Seeing red on purple prose

22nd May 2009 at 01:00

Acclaimed novelist Helen Ross has called for young children to be allowed to be boring when learning to write creatively

The author of My Summer of Love argues in today's TES that trying to improve primary pupils' writing by teaching them to sprinkle stories with "wow" words is a dangerous distortion of creative writing.

Mrs Cross has visited schools around the country to enthuse children about writing. But she says in many classrooms a lot of effort goes into teaching children how to make their writing "glitter and sparkle". The result is that some pupils produce a purple blizzard and the least able simply give up.

She writes: "What matters to the real writer - the true, the funny, the revealing, the touching - has been dangerously distorted. The emotional purpose of creative writing, to communicate one individual's unique experience to another, has been sidelined."

She praises the renewed emphasis on drama in the primary curriculum proposals drawn up by Sir Jim Rose.

Mrs Cross writes: "Many primary teachers are already retuning to drama, sensory perception and original personal writing to coax from a child work that is poignant and tender and affecting."

See Comment, page 35.

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