Samurai swords and death by social media

The world of words, books and education will be opened up and examined in thought-provoking – and probably highly amusing – depth at this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival (FLF), with the festival’s Friday programme tailored specifically to accommodate the floods of teachers and pupils who attend each year.

From samurai-wielding authors, to controlling yourself on social media, to government’s controversial proposal to limit textbooks to one per subject, the interests of those who are at school – both as learners and teachers – there is nothing at all boring about the kind of education that will be happening in Franschhoek from 15 to 17 May.

“While the programme is open, and every happening is of interest to just about anyone, we make sure to plan some of the events on a Friday so that school groups can be accommodated,” said Ann Donald, Director of the FLF.

“There is always great enthusiasm for those happenings that are of interest to teachers and pupils, so we’ve slightly broadened that part of the programme.”

Possibly the most exciting of the talks for older primary, and younger high school learners, and their teachers, happens on Friday morning at 10am when Darrel Bristow-Bovey, author of Superzero interviews two renowned authors: John Boyne, author of the international bestseller The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas – which was also made into a movie – and Chris Bradford, author of the Young Samurai series. Bradford is known to bring an authentic Samurai sword to his talks with young readers.

High school pupils and their teachers probably have much to learn from Rebecca Davis, one of South Africa’s best known hard news journalists and a woman who has had to stand her ground against some very tenacious and abrasive trolls on her Twitter feed. Davis is the author of Best White And Other Anxious Delusions and she’ll be in conversation with Emma Sadleir, who wrote the utterly delightful and equally terrifying book Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex. They’ll be talking about why being too open on social media is a dangerous thing.

There is a plethora of Friday events that high school learners will want to attend, but one that promises to be particularly moving will focus on the life stories of three remarkable South African women: Ruth Carneson, daughter of struggle activists who writes about her difficult, colourful, crazy life in Girl On The Edge, international actress Pamela Nomvete, whose memoir Dancing To The Beat Of The Drum appeared last year, and Maria Phalime, whose book Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away caused a great stir when it was published. They’ll be interviewed by Redi Tlhabi, whose warmth and humour as a host have won her a great number of admirers amongst the regulars at the FLF.

Another talk that will be of interest to teens and their teachers focuses on what teens read and the crossover factor that draws adults to books aimed at teens. Panelists will also be discussing what adults think teens should be reading, which isn’t necessarily the same as what teens are reading.

Outspoken critic of the education system Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, will be speaking at an event entitled “We Won’t Get No Education”. This panel will also feature Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer and Arthur Atwell, who has is finding new and interesting ways to get books to children, and will be chaired by one of the festival’s most popular interviewers, Francis Wilson.

Donald says that a highlight of the Friday programme is the Poetry For Life Competition Finals, an event in which high school students compete against one another in recitation. South Africa is the latest country to join this international initiative.

“The competition finals tie in with ‘Reading to Remember’, an event earlier in the day, which explores why learning poetry by heart at school is important,” said Donald.

The competition will be judged by, among others, Cape Talk radio stalwart John Maytham and “Afrikaaps” poet Nathan Trantraal, and will be hosted by the poet Finuala Dowling.

“Everyone’s really excited about this one. It’s entertaining, educational and competitive all in one. Young audiences will love it,” said Donald.

  • The programme for the FLF is available online at www.flf.co.za. The festival takes place from Friday 15 May till Sunday 17 May. Block bookings are available for schools, which means that staff and pupils will pay only R20 per ticket per event. For school block bookings, you can contact Sheenagh at help@flf.co.za.

 

 

 

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