by Rosy Graham
We were looking forward to Gosforth Central Middle School coming to the Castle. Their arrival, oddly enough, heralded some time off after a rather hectic week. We were afforded these extra breaks because the school had timetabled daily ‘Writing Lessons’, which puzzled me slightly: why would a school group come to a genuine, medieval castle, with brilliant outdoor activities and excursions, to then sit in a classroom to do work? All became clear however, when Subhadassi, artist, poet and children’s writer, came to stay at the Castle to do some narrative writing workshops with the Gifted and Talented students of Gosforth Central Middle School.
So I was beginning to wonder what precise definition of ‘Gifted and Talented’ Gosforth Middle were using, during the Grail Hunt, as their quests to find the numbers of doors, windows, chairs etc just didn’t tally with what I had written down as the correct answers. I like to think that I learn fom my mistakes and in the future, I’ll think twice before automatically assuming that the (rather intelligent) children before me are wrong. Big oops! I am aware of the saying ‘Common sense is different for each person’ . . . yeah, turns out that’s true.
The following day saw me leading the group in Initiative Exercises, where the group is encouraged to solve the problems set before them as a team. The Gosforth group were indeed excellent . . . almost too good though. One exercise involves getting a ‘bomb’ from the ‘danger zone’, across a gravel area that must not be touched and into the ‘safe vault’. The group is given two lengths of rope which can be used to lift the bomb to safety if crossed in the correct way and some care is used while moving the device. However, clearly excellent at judging distance and confident in their ability to jump, one of the team took it upon themselves to leap clear across the gravel, without so much as touching a pebble, to the danger zone; pass the bomb to another member of the group and solve the problem. Not exactly a classic display of teamwork, but I couldn’t fault their initiative.
Later that evening, there was a Medieval Talent Show, followed by a disco. I have to say that there was more personality on display that evening than I’ve witnessed so far this year: picture if you will, a sketch with a knight fighting a dragon and a wedding with girl playing the ukulele.
The next day Gosforth Central Middle School left us, though I did hear on the grapevine that some of us are included in their stories. So, watch this space for more news on the novelists of tomorrow, coming to a bookshop near you . . . I may even get a mention.