My school visit – Lessons from Jack Black

There’s a fabulous scene in School of Rock where Jack Black, masquerading as a teacher, gets asked about his methods. Straight-faced he quotes ‘The Greatest Love of All’ lyrics, written by Linda Creed & recorded by Whitney Houston ‘I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.’ Anyone who has seen the movie will know Jack’s reasons for teaching are intrinsically selfish at first but ultimately he inspires the kids with his passion for music.

Encouraging creativity in schools is so important. Sometimes I feel it can get a little lost amongst the league tables, the desire for academic excellence, the immense pressure on both teachers and children to produce results that exceed target levels. The younger generation, teenagers in particular, often get a bad press. My sons and their friends are polite, friendly, with a passion for politics and the environment that would put many adults to shame.

School visits are something I am doing more and more of. Not for marketing, my psychological thrillers are entirely unsuitable for children and I never take any to sell, or sign, but to share my experience of life inside and outside of education. I still remember that moment nearly thirty years ago when I sat in front of the careers advisor, palms prickling with nerves, stomach churning as I said out loud the thing I had never dared say before. ‘I want to be a writer.’ I still feel the crushing disappointment when she dismissed my dream with words that hit like bullets. ‘That’s not a career. You can’t earn a living from it. Go and work in an office.’ I often wonder if my school had focused a little more on creativity how different my career path might have been. How, if an author had visited and said ‘Yes, you absolutely can make a living writing. I’m doing it,’ whether I wouldn’t have given up quite so easily.

The last thing I want to do is make it seem is that the children’s dream careers are easily achievable but I want to impart that with hard work, determination and positivity there is nothing you can’t at least try to do and to encourage them to never lose that passion for the things we love, because as adults we often do. The things we enjoyed when we were young, cast as frivolous and time wasting, buried under a mountainous pile of routine, bills and domestic drudgery.

Write, paint, draw, sing, mould with clay. Never lose sight of who you are or what you love. The average life span is 4,000 weeks. Make the most of your precious time.

If just one child during tough times, remembers my visit, recalling how once a disabled mother, with limited education, came to their school and said ‘Yes, you can. Don’t give up,’ they might end up paying it forward one day. Encouragement, kindness and love are free to give and easily shared.


9 thoughts on “My school visit – Lessons from Jack Black

  1. I love this post! When I was young the adults in my life only semi-encouraged my biggest dreams. I had ADD and wanted to do everything of course. One of my greatest dreams in college was to be a missionary. My mom shot that down. I still wish I had just done it.

    My 8-year-old decided this year that he wants to be a movie director. As a writer myself and someone who loves film and all fiction, I am excited for him if he continues in this dream. I’m going to encourage him in all his endeavors because it might just be what pushes him past his fears.

  2. Bravo for you! for both persisting and finding your way and for going out of your way to let children know they also can find a path that’s not necessarily “the usual” but IS what they want and Need!

  3. Brilliant post Louise. Author visits are inspiring for children and so important in a curriculum with so little space for creativity and the arts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And your inspiration attitude.

  4. Good for you, Louise. People are apt to sneer at people of all ages who say they want to be a writer, but it’s very sad when children have their creative dreams crushed before they’ve even had a chance to blossom. I’m sure you will help to influence many children most positively 🙂

Thanks so much for reading!

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