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After 33 years of teaching, I found “My People” at Goldsmiths: they were my tutors and my fellow students.
My name is Michael Kelly. I completed the Writer/Teacher MA programme [now called the MA Creative Writing & Education] from 2014-16. After 33 years of teaching, latterly as an AST in Tower Hamlets primary schools, I found “My People” at Goldsmiths: they were my tutors and my fellow students.
Teaching can be an isolating experience. This is paradoxical given the collaborative nature of classroom learning. But years of specialisation can do this. How stimulating to discover vocational teachers, writers, and spoken word educators with experience and passion to share. No matter how tired I was from the day job when I arrived at Goldsmiths, I almost always left the class feeling refreshed and energised.
On the MA, a structured critique and appreciation of creative writing practices contextualised much of our educational debate. I discovered research evidence to open up theory that had become important to me, covering learner agency, personal growth, creativity and aesthetics, collaboration, voice, culture and heritage, bilingualism, story, and spoken word. Most importantly, I had access to practical models to support and challenge my practice.
Visiting lecturers covered important and cutting-edge areas of creative writing and how it can be taught effectively. At a time when my experience was of debate being closed down and uniformity of teaching practice being advocated, the course of study at Goldsmiths was a massive relief.
The quality of the teaching was consistently excellent. Skilful course management allowed for proper devolution of responsibility and learner ownership throughout. To spend time in the company of Vicky Macleroy, Ardu Vikal, Michael Rosen, Maggie Pitfield, Francis Gilbert, and Blake Morrison was a joy.
Goldsmith alumni from our course form an active community of Writers, Educators, and Poets. We are socially engaged and recognise learners as experts in their own lives. Ours is a rich and diverse group. We regularly meet to workshop our writing; we meet to hear each other's spoken word poetry; we visit each other's schools and PRUs.
My son recently completed GCSE English Literature. When I discussed poetry with him he said, “it’s interesting Dad, but it’s not on the mark scheme”.
“Too right son”, I said. “It is interesting.”
Michael is the author of a forthcoming series of novels called: "Moving the Relics".
"Post-War Britain is an empty house with the lights out and the key in the door. Entire communities from Roscommon and Galway have been grafted onto Inner City Birmingham, with their identities and cultures intact: a dose of neat poitin poured over the suet pudding of the Midlands. The alcohol burns off and leaves the pudding enriched and altered. A young man is up to his neck in the pudding.
In 1977 during his gap year, Vincent Harkin starts his informal education on the Railways. Vincent has no physical courage, no practicality, and no sense of proportion. How will he ever emulate his wise and funny Dad?"