Education is a passion, perhaps because I changed school many times as a child. It made me aware of the difference between learning which came easily or naturally and the laboured, wasteful activity of much schooling.
Since then, I’ve come across some inspiring educators. Besides Paulo Freire and Neil Postman, there’s Sir Ken Robinson, A. N. Whitehead and many others. I’ve enjoyed using their ideas in my own work – for I’ve always taught part-time.
I was training to be a teacher before winning a short story competition took me into journalism instead. It was the right path. Learning to write became part of the broader activity of learning to think – and vice versa. It was an integrated process.
Working with groups of teenagers for 10 years was especially enlivening and resulted in my first book, The Ostrich Position. Friday’s Child followed, in which I made a plea for education to be understood as an activity in which students came to understand themselves in the context of the world around them. In other words, they learned to use their minds.
This was followed by being a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Journalism at London’s City University and an RLF (Royal Literary Fund) fellow at Westminster University, where I tutored students one to one.
For the last 18 years, I’ve been an Alexander Technique Teacher, working from home in Islington, North London, work which involves the mind as well as the body.
My teaching is based on the fact that the two are inseparable. You engage with and educate a whole person.