Category Archives: education

Library

I originally wrote this poem when I was invited to do a speech to honour the opening of the Ann Christopherson library at Ipswich East primary school, and it’s been one of my favourites to perform ever since. Also, unlike most of my poetry, it’s very ‘clean,’ so it’s safe to perform for younger audiences (although we all know how much kids love dropping F-bombs, I think schools would stop booking me if I tried to get away with it…)

I haven’t done much of the youtube poetry thing and it seems like all the cool kids are doing it, so I might as well jump on the bandwagon. Let me know what you think. And of course, super nerdy and awesome discussions about your favourite books/libraries and how they changed your life are always welcome!

You can also download the full text here: LIBRARY

 

 

On the making of monsters.

earthcheck

 

Recently I helped out EarthCheck with designing some fictional characters to help teach kids about caring for the environment. We developed four names for each character and then ran a poll on social media to choose the winning moniker. There’s an article about it here, it’s a great project that’s going to work with schools all over Asia, starting in Singapore. Check it out!

Bagsy 

 

Dearest Ministers of Education: please buy 2 million copies of Zeb and the Great Ruckus.

Dear Mr Langbroek (State Minister for Education) and Mrs Collins (Federal Minister for School Education),
I’m sure that your political parties are very busy dismantling essential health services and implementing draconian internet security protocols respectively. I would, however like to borrow a few moments of your valuable time to talk about an important issue, which is the dire lack of fictional texts featuring clockwork birds, obscure musical references, weaponised toffee and bewilderbeasts in the national school curriculum. Currently the new QLD curriculum has Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda as one of the required year 4 texts. Now, I’m sure Emily is a lovely person, and some of my students do genuinely enjoy her work. However, many of them, when faced with the task of reading her work, make a face like this:
Here is an actual quote from an actual student at an actual school:
“It’s boring. And when it’s boring I can’t concentrate and then I can’t do my work. Reading it makes me feel like my brain is made of grey jelly and the grey jelly is tired and grumpy. Also Jill said I smell like a sweaty bear. Can I throw my scissors at her?” Actual students may, to you, resemble strange mythical beasts, given that in your role as two of the most influential people of education in the country you are not at any time required to talk to actual students so much as read reports and analyses written by people who have met them in an academic capacity, which one can only assume is far more efficient.
“Roar! I’m a dragon! Roar! I make no more than a cameo appearance in this book! Roar!”
I’ll admit that Rodda got it right with the bit about dragons. Kids love dragons. I mean, hell, who DOESN’T love dragons? There aren’t nearly enough animals, mythical or otherwise, that can projectile vomit fire. But despite the fact that there is a dragon on the front cover we don’t get to meet the damn thing until the last 20 pages, and even then it only sticks around for a couple of dozen paragraphs before never being seen again. That’s false advertising if you ask me. If you applied the same approach to film advertising then the poster for The Dark Knight Rises would have looked like this:
Now, I understand that politics can be a messy game with few obvious solutions. Sometimes you have difficult decisions to make, like when you have to figure out how to justify extreme cost cutting measures like killing literary awards during the National Year of Reading and essential housing programs for underprivileged members of society whilst still getting away with giving yourselves a pay rise and a multi-million dollar office upgrade.
Luckily, I have an easy solution for you. Simply give the ol Rowan of Rin a rest for a little while and try out this really great new book that I wrote read recently called Zeb and the Great Ruckus. It’s got everything a kid could ever want! Explosions! Guitars! Bewilderbeasts! Action! Magic!  An allegorical warning about the dangers of an overly authoritarian government  valuable life lessons!
As you can see in the chart below, Zeb and the Great Ruckus outscores Rowan of Rin in all five essential learning categories. It also beats War and Peace and Macbeth by a phenomenal margin. Based on these criteria, Zeb’s literary prowess and educational potential is empirically clear. Plus, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, and we all know that your parties could certainly stand to improve their efforts in regards to Indigenous education now don’t we? On an unrelated note, I’d never realised what a clearly terrible novel War and Peace is until reading this chart just now. Sheesh.
 
Data analysis courtesy of the Ministry of Truth
I urge you to make Zeb and the Great Ruckus one of the required texts for the national curriculum. I suggest that you put in an order for say, I don’t know, 2 million copies sometime with the next fiscal quarter, and I look forward to seeing a generation of children making this face:
PS: The official Zeb and the Great Ruckus launch party is on the 21st of September at Black Cat books. It will be loud, messy and amazing. Facebook event here, everyone in the world is invited.