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John Marsden's Context

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Adele McLennan-Gillings

on 13 May 2011

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Transcript of John Marsden's Context

Context of John Marsden Born in 1950, Marsden lived in the city of Devonport, Tasmania and the town of Kyneton, in Victoria until he was 10 years old, when his family moved to Sydney and he attended the Kings School. The headmaster of Kings says
"King's is an extraordinary School, made so by a tradition of educational excellence which spans many years." Marsden hated it. The military style of the school
didn't suit Marsden's dreamy nature. "When John was in Grade 3, he got a report from his teacher reprimanding him for daydreaming. I think it's probably affected him ever since. I can just imagine that little Grade 3 boy thinking, when I'm grown up, I'm going to let people have a dream, and have a little bit of a think when they want to." After school, Marsden attended university but dropped out. He was diagnosed with depression, and for a time was put into a mental hospital. He says:
It actually was very, very helpful, very constructive and very useful. Because I started learning about feelings and relationships and communication, and the way the world really worked. Whereas I guess in the 1950s, at school especially, there was an emphasis on manners and appearances, and that seemed far more important than reality. So ever since, I've really distrusted appearance. I've been much more interested in reality and trying to get past that mask or that nice veneer and to find out what's really going on inside. Stop and Think:
How is this attitude evident in the first few pages of
Tomorrow When the War Began? After recovering from his depression, Marsden went to university and trained as a teacher. He despaired at young people's attitudes towards reading, and decided to write his first novel. Marsden eventually left teaching.
"I left full-time teaching because I got more and more frustrated by the way in which the obsession with control was so extreme that it took priority over students' welfare and good learning." It was a runaway success. He bought a property in Victoria, just north of Melbourne that comprised of more than 850 acres of bushland. He ran writing camps on this property - the Tye Estate - for 8 years before beginning his alternative school, Candlebark, in 2006. Some of the philosophies of John Marsden's school are: The most worthwhile journey of life is
the one from ignorance to awareness,
or understanding, or wisdom. Relationships are at the heart
of any meaningful learning experience. All the members of a school are responsible for it.
This responsibility includes the health of all who pass through the school gates, as well as the physical fabric of the school. Contact with the earth is of itself good.
It’s okay to get muddy or dirty. Write:
Knowing what you now know about Marsden, what sort of novel do you expect him to have written?
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