Sunday, 13 April 2014

Terry Deary: I Am An Anarchist

Deary really does hate authority. You can see it in his books, where he is constantly poking fun at Aztec chieftains or British generals. He has turned down invitations to meet the Queen and Tony Blair.

Where does it all come from? “School. The teachers put my back up. They kick conformity into children. Teachers are just bullies and schools are a waste of time. They’re an ancient Greek idea that the Victorians borrowed to get kids off the street. It’s fundamentally wrong.”

Instead of schooling, Deary would use mentors. “Every child has an entitlement to be educated for their needs. The key is to identify their talents,” he says.

“Schools can’t do that in classes of 30. Mentors could. If you’re a writer then someone attaches you to a writer. Art to an artist. Mechanics to a mechanic. What is your skill? Everybody has a skill.”

The continuing debate about how to teach history means nothing to Deary, it’s just “a bunch of muppets in Whitehall telling teachers what to teach”. He adds triumphantly: “I’m an anarchist.”


I wonder if the teachers and parents who ply children with Horrible Histories realise how subversive Deary’s message is. It may be cloaked in lavatory humour, but underneath it’s pure radical. “That’s the way sneaky propagandists do it. I’m poisoning the minds of children ... yes!” he grins.

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