Posted in Writing

Flower/story challenge – Four

[Day 4 of seven]

In the UK those in power are playing, yet again, with the education system. Over the past year or so they have introduced something called an EBac (English Baccalaureate) which means that students must study English, Maths, 2 Sciences, either modern or ancient history or geography, and either a modern or ancient language.

To many that will come as welcome news and there have been and will continue to be comments along the lines of “To be honest I wonder what schools who have a problem with this think their job actually is. Would we tolerate hospitals which don’t try to make patients better? Why should schools get a free ride” and “British parents are more concerned with their children receiving praise. If anything they are more likely to complain that their little darlings are being worked too hard”.

It’s interesting that one of the commentators likens schools to hospitals (places people go when they are ill or have serious health problems that require specialist treatment and/or surgery). Is school really that kind of place?

Anyway, one of the subject areas not listed in the EBac is the Arts … no drama, no visual art, no music, no dance.  For some children that will come as a devastating blow. The area in which they have skill and capacity and interest and talent will no longer be recognised as subjects appropriate for school.

It begs the question – what is the purpose of school?  More than that, it seems that in the UK and the US there is a push for a particular type of school that privileges one kind of student over another – that privileges the already advantaged over the already disadvantaged – the type of school that costs less money, is largely funded by parents – never mind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Article 26:

  • Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
  • Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
  • Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

No Arts – where is the scope for the full development of the human personality?

Parents choose. What happens when parents, like I was when I had young children, like my own children are now, have limited incomes and so cannot afford schools that can offer education that is more interested in developing the child’s potential than moving up a notch or two on a league table?

So, no Arts in the UK.

Where is the place for exploring creativity (and I don’t mean artistic creativity here, I mean the full gamut of creative thought and creative possibility – the creativity a scientist needs to be able to think beyond the known; the creativity an engineer needs to build the as yet unbuildable; the creativity a dancer needs to move us through the way he uses his body) … where is the place for fully developing human personality? Yes, we can know facts and therefore do well at Trivia nights at the local RS, but shouldn’t education move beyond that? Is knowing facts enough? It’s a start, and it’s important, but is that all education can offer us?

So, to today’s challenge.

I started this story writing challenge by talking about creativity requiring boundaries. The flower is one boundary – its colour, stance, gesture, age, vibrancy (or lack thereof), the size and number of the petals … all these things might suggest something to you which you can work from. There’s also its position within the frame – is it looking outwards, upwards, downwards? How much space is around it and what might that suggest?

I have also provided boundaries in relation to specific details – the year (which might trigger memories of what happened in that year, as it did for Debbie; or for Tim it was a trigger for finding out what music was being played in that year and using that in the story), the characters, an atmosphere suggested by a particular time of day. All these things act as boundaries and gently move you in a particular direction with your story writing, while allowing for huge diversity.

Then there’s your own knowledge and use of language – I was particularly struck by the alliteration of ‘light lances through leaves’ in Mum/Dad’s story; and Tim’s old man whose face was a ‘roadmap to regret’.

So today’s challenge is about using language creatively … to show rather than tell. We see the old man’s lined face through the description, rather than being told that the man is old. To conjure images through alliteration, or to add humour through exaggeration. Plus, must have a link, however subtle, to education, learning, or schooling.

Today’s 60 word story is bounded by your expressive capability.  Have fun!

1950s style


I like to travel and take photographs. I like to blog about both.

5 thoughts on “Flower/story challenge – Four

  1. oh dear this was very hard to keep to the word limit for me! I have written and rewritten but edited and culled but I will have to submit with 75 words. here is my offering.
    The noise was like a swarm of bees; a constant buzzing, not unpleasant just constant. The woman watched unnoticed from the distance. She saw small children all sprawled on the grass, all speaking animatedly but drawing flowers. Their teacher wasn’t interfering, merely smiling and encouraging. It was obvious these children were enjoying their outside classroom rather than being confined to the stark, boxlike room that was their home for more than half their waking hours.


  2. Okay, here we go then…

    The tyre swing rocks itself gently as the earth sighs and remembers a time, the time, the times, before. Below, near the boards peeling paint like fresh scars, the daisies tremble, swaying. Inside, the schoolhouse groans as it fades and wishes for a time, the times, when there was warmth here. Tears. Laughter. When it was somewhere, something, somehow, more.


  3. Okay–for some reason when I decided I wanted to tackle this this morning, it ended up all Hemingwayish. I don’t know why–it’s expressive in a kind of minimalist way…anyway, here goes (and it’s exactly 60 words, by the way!).

    It was Sunday night. He was waiting. Every Sunday night he waited, in the shadow of the Liquidambar tree that guarded the house from the street. He held flowers in his hand. The house was silent in front of him, as if somehow it was waiting for him, too. No one lived there anymore, but every Sunday night: he waited.


  4. A boisterous BOOOOO for the boys and girls who are bound by bricks and bullies and blue and black ink now; what happened to the colours and the jumping and the AND NOW, LIKE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE? I remember talent quests, papier mache, dioramas; not so fancy but this version of me needed them to be who she’d be.


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