My working partnership with Clare Trevelyan is based on completing on a series of contradictory curriculum design tasks. These arise from her epic business vision which reads as a highly personal creative view of her place in the world as an author, parent and human being.
“I have a dream that family life for my child will be a collective of adventures in thinking, so it follows that my vision for a sustainable venture is creating a community of passionate people who empower you the parent, to crack open conversations between families, on life, on everything around your kitchen table…. using our beautiful resources for just ten minutes a day”
Resources Not Courses, Please!
Oddly but lucky for me, the vision seems to make sense. Nonetheless, curriculum-wise, I must navigate a highly differentiated path for a client who wants to create storybooks and learning experiences for her parent audience which steer away from any sense of a parenting course.
Instead, she wants online resources which parents can use in 10 minute blocks to meaningful share questions, conversations and media – texts, music, animations.
Here’s a 2 minute presentation I created to explain Clare’s vision:
Making Partnerships With A Writer Means Knowing The Writing.
Clare and I have been working together for five years.
The basis of our relationship began NOT with designing curriculum but, as I learned to do in my teaching career, spending time coming to know how she created her books. In other words, I made it my business to understand her style and concepts in the most thorough way, so much so that I could offer her my editing skills, prior to her handing over her works to a professional editing service.
My writing skills and doctorate in the cultural history of the creative industries meant that I could begin a most interesting dialogue with my writer client about her values and beliefs, as well as her artistic raison d’etre.
Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her complete two series for her preferred age group of middle school young readers
Thinking of resource creation pedagogically
I’m sure we have all seen the kinds of resources which publishers create for children’s authors. They’re most designed for use in the classroom to stimulate readers to pay closer attention to the text – word sleuths, crosswords, closed comprehension questions etc.
Playfully Engaging With Philosophy
However, for Clare it’s nothing less than playing with the attractions of a theme park, all relate to deep concepts about life for young philosophers and their families.
As we investigate thinking about thinking, endings, ourselves, emotional transactions, themes and metaphor, she want to empower parents to not just do their duty of reading and sharing books and stories, but to strongly and meaningfully read and write their own lives.
A New Kind Of Philosophical Texts
The four books of the Young Philosophers Series are different from the usual philosophy in schools storybooks, created, for instance, by Matthew Lipman’s Harry Stottlemeier’s Discovery.
This is because the author, Clare-Rose Trevelyan and illustrator, Yongho Moon, have purposefully left their books UNFINISHED, calling on young people to make decisions on the fate of the texts.
The Book With No Story holds 52 creatures who have run off from the author’s journals and half finished stories. They are look for new stories to live in, particularly created by children.
Why In The World Are We Here? Is created as a travel records of two indecisive creatures, Eia and Whhat, who are looking for the ideal place to live. Their nine island visits reveals much about why we ask questions in the first place.
The One Thing & Anothers is a short story about the dangers of unseen consequences. The introduced good intentions of two aliens on Earthia, a thinly disguised version for planet Earth, goes wrong… in all the wrong ways.
The Fake Dictionary is exactly as the title suggests, a dictionary with cryptic definitions for known words. The dictionary is beautifully illustrated by arranging family heirlooms into mesmerising formations. How is meaning ever meant to be made?
Their reason for being is not only to be JUST deciphered and interpreted by young readers but to be reconfigured. Nor do author and illustrator hesitate to say to parents and children that the way to the future is through the social nature of working in creative teams.
This makes the Young Philosophers Series challenging texts that respect the creativity of progressive parents to ask and respond to questions – discuss opinions and ideas – argue a particular view and – express ideas and feelings. Easy, really!