The war horse on the red carpet

War Horse, a film by Stephen Spielberg based on Michael Morpurgo novel

Spielberg's film War Horse adapts Morpurgo's novel

I wish I was going to the premiere of War Horse, the Steven Spielberg directed film, in Leicester Square today. I have long been a fan of the work of Michael Morpurgo, the best selling children’s author on whose book the film is based. Alas, no invite came my way. Instead today is going to be spent in the usual Sunday flurry of swimming, reading the papers and rustling up family meals.  But last week I did get to chat to Mr Morpurgo for The University of Fun, my Sunday Times article this week, and he was every bit as interesting and controversial as I might have expected from his books.

We chatted about the fact that Joey, a real life horse, is going to trot the red carpet at Leicester Square today and then Michael, former primary school teacher himself, let rip about a long standing beef – how boring lessons in state schools can be. Michael blames the national curriculum and schools’ focus on endless tests and exams for stifling children’s national curiosity and desire to learn.
“We’ve got ourselves into a really terrible trap,” he grumbled. “Successive governments have shouted about exams, exams, exams and tests, tests, tests. The curriculum has becomes tighter and narrower. They’ve forgotten the need to allow children to develop their creative talents.”
The solution? Well, if you have kids who are bored at school you could try the Children’s University, of which Michael Morpurgo is chancellor.
It’s helping thousands of youngsters across the country aged 7 to 14 develop their talents by encouraging them to take part in activities ranging from ceramics to Japanese. Kids are given a passport (cost £2) to record their participation at activities at hundreds of centres across the country, from Chatsworth House to after school clubs. When they have amassed 30 hours worth of weekend, after school or holiday classes, they “graduate” at a special ceremony wearing specially made caps and gowns.
Megan Boyden, from Colchester, Essex, says she has been encouraged to consider a career in sports reporting after taking part in a sports reporting course under the auspices of the Children’s University. She got to blog from the press box at Colchester United, meet BBC sports reporters and speak on stage about her experiences. Her verdict? “A lot more personal then school lessons and fun too” says Megan, who is now 15.
The latest plan is to extend activities to five and six year olds.
“The great thing about it is that it targets those children who was and need to learn more and to spend time in a way that is fulfilling,” says Morpurgo.
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One Response to The war horse on the red carpet

  1. Pingback: A new opportunity « westhertscollege

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