School Visits #BookWeek 2015 Presenting Workshops

This week is “Book Week” in Australia and it’s an important week for Australian authors. It goes without saying that the other weeks in the year are important too. However, it’s this week that really excites authors because we get to visit lots of schools. Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit Silkwood School. Silkwood is an independent school offering a unique developmental and student-centred approach to education.

Silkwood’s educational philosophy is about affirming every student.

Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way. – George Evans

IMG_3495Silkwood School

I was lucky enough to present a series of workshops to the children of Silkwood working with different methods to stimulate ideas for developing characters and narratives.   These are very busy workshops and there’s lots of thinking involved.

IMG_3501Workshop material all ready to go.

My workshops are always about creativity and finding inspiration from different sources. I rarely use PowerPoint presentations unless I’m conducting a formal talk addressing a large audience. I prefer to use discussion, the environment, drawing, our senses and drama while also including worksheets that are task orientated. This combination of elements stimulates a foundation for creativity and innovative thinking. The results are always amazing.  The characters and stories the children create are fantastic. I always like to give the children an opportunity to showcase their work and I’m always astounded by their creative ideas.

The environment around us can be used to develop story ideas and characters. What we see, hear, smell can be stimulus for our imagination.  Let me share with you a photo of the classroom in which I presented my workshops at Silkwood School yesterday.

IMG_3498A bush setting for a classroom.

IMG_3499Beautiful bush walk at Silkwood School.

A part of me wishes all children could be given an opportunity to learn in an environment like this. There is something freeing about this natural environment that allows children to be, well, children. The bush also provided great acoustics for me to perform Piceptus (character from my books) giving his rally speech.  It’s a little drama performance I love to do for the children. My ability to bring my characters to life might be a little different to other authors but this is who I am. Much like this school’s educational program ensures that each child’s individual talents also have an opportunity to shine. We are, after all, unique and different from one another in the way we learn and grow.

IMG_3500Me in a classroom that I adore.

This was one of my favourite school visits.  My feeling on this wasn’t all to do with the bush land setting. It also had to do with the wonderful children and teachers I met. Clearly there is a real truth to the ‘point of difference’ this school offers its school community. Replacing ‘subject-centredness’ with ‘student-centredness’ is a excellent basis for engaging real success for students.

So until next time. Be brave and bold in your chosen field of creativity. And never be afraid to explore new techniques.


  1. I wish I’d had a chance to see you! I’m the grade nine English teacher. Maybe we can chat next time 🙂

    • Hi H, I would love to come back to Silkwood and present some different workshops for the children. Wow, what a wonderful school it is indeed. It’s such a beautiful space to encourage growth, learning and allow children discover their true potential. 🙂

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