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Why curiosity is the key to life

Sep 6, 2014 by

Michael Rosen, the poet, broadcaster and former children’s laureate, has written a book on how to educate kids at home. As you might imagine, this has nothing to do with anything as dry and fusty as maths papers or lists of spelling and everything to do with the mess of ordinary life – the kitchen, the bathroom, the bottom of the garden.

It’s about trapping and scrutinising nits and listening to the pulse in your ear; it’s about telling stories and collecting old stones, messing about with the wires in old plugs and recounting Greek myths. His advice is inspiring and entertaining and thrilling and, at the same time (I felt I had to tell him), possibly apt to make the average, shall we say lazier, parent feel like a bit of a failure …

“Oh God. Oh no. Oh, don’t feel that,” Rosen says. “Oh no. Oh no. You’re not supposed to do all of it all of the time. Just some of it. Sometimes.” He cracks his hand against his forehead. “I don’t want anyone to feel guilty. Remember I’ve been doing this for …” he widens his mouth in an exaggeration of a wince. “Almost 40 years.”

He is sitting opposite me at home in north London, a big energetic cartoon of a man, his long legs and body folded into a black leather chair. At first appearance he is smarter and neater than he looks in pictures – nice jeans, cashmere jumper over a striped T-shirt, tamed grey hair. But when he moves or becomes animated (cross or upset or inspired, all of these within minutes), he seems physically to grow and unravel – morphing into a character by Roald Dahl (perhaps the BFG?), to whom he is often compared; or a sketch by Quentin Blake, who illustrates most of his books.

His eyes protrude, his hands become huge and gesticulating; the room suddenly seems too small. At the age of 68, he is the father of five children, plus two stepdaughters (across three marriages). His work has taken him into hundreds of schools, into meetings with teachers and publishers and ministers. But if he is qualified to talk about all this, it may be because he is so genuinely passionate, so enthusiastic, so in touch with what it is like to be a child.

via Michael Rosen: Why curiosity is the key to life | Life and style | The Guardian.

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