A life in books: Sean O'Brien

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Sean O'Brien Feature

...So he made the move into teaching. "I thought I needed to get a proper job, and the thing English graduates did was teach. I took my Cert Ed and went to Beacon School, a big comprehensive in Sussex." His memories of the school are fond - and not only because he met his long-term partner, Gerry Wardle, in the staffroom. Despite being privately educated himself, O'Brien is a passionate advocate of the comprehensive system: the practical expression of the fervid anti-Thatcherism that simmered through his work in the 1980s. "We did all the stuff that's scorned now: mixed-ability teaching, trying to give everyone as much opportunity as possible. There were limits, imperfections, but we believed in it." Nevertheless, in 1989, after eight years in the job, he was ready to leave. "If you really committed to it, it was exhausting - rewarding in many ways, but it digs it out of you. I had to stop - either that or go mad. Madder."

I've always especially liked O'Brien's collection, The Indoor Park, published while he was working as a teacher. We met occasionally during that period (to judge a local schools poetry competition; at NUT meetings, where he would usually be reading the latest edition of TLS rather than union leaflets) so I am looking forward to reading his novel at some point.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on August 16, 2009 10:08 AM.

Jeanette Winterson turns to children's drama with thriller for BBC | Books | The Guardian was the previous entry in this blog.

Arthur Ransome: Writer, lover, sailor, spy review | Non-fiction book reviews - Times Online is the next entry in this blog.

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