Since January, a small group of students have been taking part in a special ethnography project, with a visiting ethnographer/storyteller (Richard Neville) who ran the weekly workshop and guided them through the process. The purpose of the project was for the students to use any creative forms of their choice, such as prose, poetry, dialogue, photography etc. to capture what life was like as a student at our school. Each week Richard and I would meet with the students, a regular group of 8-10 from across the year groups, and we would talk with them, read their work, read our work to each other, and take part activities as a group. The activities included creating poems, on the spot, taking turns to add a line each to continue the poem; Richard recording pupils’ speaking, or discussing, an issue or event; and creating random poetic phrases such as those below:
Over the weeks, Richard and I collected the students’ work and, last week, Richard put their work together (along with my and two other teachers’ contributions) and Richard had a proof copy printed of their work. The students were able to review the proof and choose the font that they wanted their work to be printed in, as well as any layout changes that they wanted and the name that they wanted their work attributed to. The final printed book looked fantastic and was presented to the students at Enfield Island Village Library on 26 March. At this event representatives from Enfield Libraries attended to present certificates, copies of the book were given to each pupil, and one of our pupils gave a brilliant reading of one of her poems.
The pupils involved all enjoyed taking part and each took something from the process. The key thing seemed to be the breaking down of barriers to creative writing, and poetry in particular, and finding creative ways of talking about experience and collaborating to create new forms and art. While the project has officially come to an end, the artist is keen to work together again in th future, and will continue this with a creative writing group using the momentum from pupils who took part in this project and open it up for further pupils to get involved. We also plan to create a display in one of the English classrooms to further showcase the work.
Once I have the electronic file of the book, I will post it here too but, in the meantime, here is the poem I wrote as part of the project: