Mar
13
8:30 AM08:30

King Alfred School, Hampstead

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On a springy, sunny morning I headed up to the King Alfred School in Hampstead for a talk with some of their Sixth Formers. After quite a few school dates now, I’m less daunted than I was at the start of the ‘tour’, when I needed firm instruction from a performer friend on how to address an audience and not my shoes. But even so, I still gulped at the news that I would be speaking in the school’s recently revamped 100-seater theatre.

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The Phoenix Theatre turned out to be a gorgeous venue, nestled in the grounds of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova’s house. To my deep joy, it had state-of-the-art screen and sound - and Akin, the incredibly helpful IT guy, which cut out the usual last minute fumbly panic when my projector doesn't fit with the school wiring.

About sixty students from Year 12 and Year 13 pitched up to the theatre, and many even sat near the front, thus eliminating that lonely, shouting-into-the-abyss experience, where students are positioned so far away they might as well be in Poland. After I’d done a short reading from ‘Oskar’ and shown the David Eagleman ‘Perception’ clips, they really got stuck in to the discussions, which covered compassion, how we all see the world differently, and limiting self beliefs.

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Their questions and responses were so generous, well thought out and curious that I could have stayed there all afternoon (with a reviving little nap in the playground’s wooden shack). These are just the sort of students that make my heart lift and remind me how lucky I am to be able to share the ideas, which I’m so passionate about.

The very lovely follow-up email from the Assistant Head of Sixth Form, Sheila Hanlon made the day complete.

"Your talk was exactly what we always dream our lectures will be. Students loved the mix of reading from Oskar Dunkelblick, videos, discussions and the whole tone of the talk. They have been saying how much they enjoyed it and several have said that they identified with Oskar, seeing themselves in him.” 

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Afterwards I scurried off to the Skip Garden in KIng’s Cross for lunch. Gazing out of the cafe window, I noticed how similar the layout of the Skip Garden is to King Alfred’s, both brimming with beautiful buildings (and plants), designed to nurture creativity and playfulness, and nourish a strong sense of community.

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That day’s lunch in the cafe - beetroot soup and goat’s cheese frittata - was pretty nourishing too.

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Feb
27
8:30 AM08:30

St Paul's School, Barnes

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It was thriling to be asked back to St Paul’s for a second time to chat about the book and how we all see the world differently.. The second session also focused on compassion and how to develop it in our daily lives, both for ourselves and others. I’ll cheerfully admit that I was a tad nervous about keeping 20 x 14 year old boys interested and engaged in the subject, but they were so responsive and willing to go along with the ‘interactive bits’, that it was a genuine pleasure. Although how teachers are able to do this all day/ all week/ all term, I have absolutely no idea.

A big thank you to Philip Gayden from St Paul’s Philosophy department for letting me take up two whole lessons!

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Dec
13
9:30 AM09:30

St Marylebone School

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The final date for this term was at St Marylebone School where I read (this time solo) and did a talk on the effect of our beliefs and expectations on what we see. In case of interest, for lunch I had a nourishing falafel and sweet potato wrap at the cosy Good Life cafe on Marylebone Lane.

To top off the delightful day, I received a lovely email afterwards from Caroline Lasko at the school: "Hattie brought the main character of her latest book to life, showing her deep understanding of Oskar and the range of complex issues so many of our students have to deal with in their daily lives. Her enthusiasm and love of writing was infectious."

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Dec
11
10:00 AM10:00

St James Girls' School

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This week the ‘Ladies on Tour’ went to St James Girls School in Kensington Olympia. What an inspired, creative and curious lot these were! After I’d finished reading from Oskar and Mary-Lou had done her workshop, the students - 13 year olds - bombarded us with super-interesting questions. I ended up telling them how it was a psychic from the London College of Psychic Studies who helped me to find my passion for writing fiction. They didn’t bat an eye - but then these girls have been learning Sanskrit and meditating since they arrived at St James, so they’re already pretty good at Flexible Thinking.

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In the spirit of documenting everything that we’ve eaten over the course of this tour, for lunch afterwards we went mainstream - and modest. But the worthiness of Gail’s lentil soup was counteracted by some wondrous golden truffles that we were handed out for free by the chocolatier next door. Win win.

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Dec
5
12:30 PM12:30

Watford UTC

Neuroscientist David Eagleman points out how our brain - and our beliefs - affect what we see.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman points out how our brain - and our beliefs - affect what we see.

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This week Mary-Lou and I were at the Watford UTC talking to two groups of 14-year-old students. They loved the visuals - especially the optical illusions which really scrambled their brains. Afterwards Mary-Lou unscrambled their brains, and showed them ways of thinking flexibly.

Such an inspiring and progressive college - with 60% of the students going on to University. Having never set foot in a school since I left mine (circa 1951), the tour so far has been incredibly eye-opening. And I get to show students little films on my portable projector, which adds to the joy.

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Nov
23
10:00 AM10:00

Canterbury College

Canterbury College with Mary-Louise Morris. (aka Ladies from the 1940’s). FYI - bags don’t signify a little light shopping in Canterbury High Street. Instead they’re filled with books and my travelling projector for the short films we show #achybreakyshoulders

Canterbury College with Mary-Louise Morris. (aka Ladies from the 1940’s). FYI - bags don’t signify a little light shopping in Canterbury High Street. Instead they’re filled with books and my travelling projector for the short films we show #achybreakyshoulders

Another week - another date on the School Tour. This time Mary-Louise and I were at Canterbury College where we did three workshops on Flexible Thinking. It was so inspiring to see the students (18 years upwards) really engaging with the sessions - and they seemed to love the sound of Oskar. Best comment after one of the readings:

‘Is Oskar a nihilist?’

Me: ‘Definitely’.

George: ‘Oh good. He sounds like me.’

Lunch in the college cafe was rather lovely too. So satisfying when the colour of your lanyard strap matches the colour of your sweet potato soup!.

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Nov
19
9:00 AM09:00

Compass School, Southwark

8.30 a.m. Assembly at Compass School

8.30 a.m. Assembly at Compass School

The first stop on the School Tour was Compass School in Southwark. And what a brilliant way to kick things off! Assembly with 140 students, where I read short extracts from Oskar, followed by clips of scientists talking about the brain and how all see the world according to our beliefs.


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Then three separate hour-long sessions with groups of 30 students each, dealing with how to face rejection and failure (both of which are just another stepping stone to where you want to get), and the joys of the imagination.

The students were so attentive and engaged, the staff were a delight and the lunch was delicious (veggie cottage pie, in case of interest). All in all, we were very spoilt. Next stop: Canterbury College.


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A Novel Way to Travel
Feb
23
4:30 PM16:30

A Novel Way to Travel

Cinema Lumière has been hitching a ride on the London tube as part of the brilliant Books on the Underground scheme. The idea is simple - and delightful. 20 books are cunningly placed on assorted tube trains, and if you spot one which takes your fancy, you can pick it up, read it, Tweet about it, then pop it back on whichever tube you happen to be when you're done. Genius. 

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