New media gives schoolchildren the chance to present their own view of the world

And there at last was Crawfordjohn; a ribbon of wet tarmac unwinding to a small place hidden in the South Lanarkshire hills.  A village so small the church had to close and there are only 12 children in the primary school.  But what a force they are.  I was still thinking about them next day when I went to another community event in a very different setting.

Two community events in two days, each one focused on the primary school; each one full of life, hope and warmth.  This is a timely reminder that Britain’s society is far from broken if only the old media knew how to look beneath the surface to find the extraordinary stories local people have to tell. Hope, like fear, thrives on the oxygen of publicity.

On Thursday, I headed for Crawfordjohn to see what Dougal and Bobby had been working on with the primary school. I slipped into the village hall aware that I was certainly not the only proud mum there.   The kids of Crawfordjohn had spent several weeks making Storypods,  mini radio programmes with oral histories based around the Heritage Centre now occupying the old church building.

On Friday, I was at the first screening of Hold the Fort, a documentary about The Fort redcarpet2.jpgcommunity in Leith. At 9.30 am the Vue cinema at Ocean Terminal was full of families enjoying a rare celebration  of local life. The red carpet was rolled out for the kids.

More than 40 miles separate these communities and in many ways they could not be more different:  grey, concrete Fort;  green, peaceful Crawfordjohn. But there are similarities. Young people growing up on the edge of Edinburgh may not feel much closer to the city centre than the young people of a rural village. And for each place the real hope and heart of the community is the primary school.

bobpix2.jpgNew media gives schoolchildren the chance to give their own view of the world and tell stories in their own words.  In Hold the Fort, children conjure up dreams of fame and fortune with the aid of computer animations – and then get to grips with real life challenges of bullying and road safety.

For Storypods, funded by the Scottish Museums Council and South Lanarkshire’s Arts Network Team, Inner Ear ran workshops on the art of interviewing,  and how to paint pictures with words. The children’s response was  imaginative and down to earth at the same time.

(Crunch crunch crunch …sounds of footsteps on gravel)
“Here we are at the church, it is surrounded by fields.”
(another voice cuts in) “It’s surrounded by graves”

(pause)”It’s in the middle of a graveyard.”

There’s me watching my sons presenting the programmes they made with  sons and daughters of Crawfordjohn. We’re all smiling.

Details of Storypod broadcasting to follow soon.