Sir Ken Robinson in a recent BBC interview with Sarah Montague as part of a programme called The Educators, talked about how a careless criticism of a teacher put him off singing for years. He added:
“…. When you’re that young, it doesn’t take a lot to be encouraged or discouraged … On the positive side, if somebody says you can do something, it lifts your whole expectations of yourself. You think: well maybe I can do that…”
School, amongst other things, leaves many young people with a feeling that they are not up to standard, that they can do nothing exceptional. It was my case with English and writing all those years ago. It took me another forty years before I dared write my first novel and what a joy that was.
In all my novels, I tell stories of young people (Sally, Brent and Keira in The Reaches for example or Peter, Kaitling and Fi in Boy & Girl) who, despite the immense difficulties that abound, discover their own talents and manage to do the exceptional. The achievement is all theirs, even if there is an adult nearby who has the wisdom to believe in them and to encourage them, like Professor Rafter in the first three books of The Storyteller’s Quest (The Reaches, The Keeper’s Daughter, The Starless Square) or Dr. Grant and Fi’s mum in Boy & Girl and In Search of Lost Girls.