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Nigel Pearn

Nigel Pearn

Nigel Pearn is a teacher at Dodges Ferry Primary School, a beachside public school forty-five kilometres north of Hobart, on the top end of the Tasman Peninsula. He is currently working with teachers and students as part of an Aboriginal Expansion Program funded through Education Tasmania and the Federal Government’s Closing the Gap initiatives. Nigel is President of e:lit, the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia. He is interested in all aspects of students’ love of literature and growth in literacy, but has particular professional interests in school-level program evaluation and educational measurement; the interface between arts practices and literacy; building school/university partnerships; and the policy and practice of teacher professional learning. He is married to Sarah Kanowski, the editor of Island magazine, and is the father of two rambunctious, not-yet-school-aged children.

Nigel Pearn reviews five children's books

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2005
Here are five reasons why there is a literacy crisis in Australia. It is not about teacher-training; it’s about appallingly conservative publishing choices and the positioning of ‘reading’ as something that needs to be slipped under the radar of children’s attention, rather than celebrating it as one of life’s biggest adventures. What these novels share is a commitment to sport as a stru ... (read more)

Hit with a Waddy

July–August 2008, no. 303 01 July 2008
Nation-building, educational imperatives, old-fashioned economics: children’s books get published for a variety of reasons, none of which alone is a guarantee of quality. Ultimately, a picture book’s success or failure comes from within, the interplay of the words and pictures on the page, and children have a wonderful way of reading around the institutional pathways constructed for them by au ... (read more)

Access to truth by Nigel Pearn

October 2008, no. 305 01 October 2008
I grew up reading rubbish and then reread it all again when I got older and called it nostalgia. Rubbish is great. The most lucid (and mercifully brief) account of rubbish reading I have read is Peter Dickinson’s ‘A Defense of Rubbish’. He wrote it for Children’s Literature and Education in 1970, but a version is available on his website ( Children, Dickinson argues ... (read more)

Nigel Pearn reviews 6 children’s books

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
As you set out towards Ithaca / hope the way is long / full of reversals, full of knowing                                                        C.P. Cavafy Young children often use the word ‘sad’ to describe negative or confusing emotions. ‘What ... (read more)

Nigel Pearn reviews 'Right Book, Right Time' by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen

November 2007, no. 296 01 November 2007
This is Agnes Nieuwenhuizen’s third guide to teenage reading: Good Books for Teenagers (1992) was followed by More Good Books for Teenagers (1995). Thankfully, this latest instalment is not Even More Good Books for Teenagers, but the much less prescriptively titled Right Book, Right Time: 500 Great Reads for Teenagers. Whereas ‘good’ collocated all too easily with ‘a good breakfast’ – ... (read more)

Nigel Pearn reviews the 'A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen's Land' by Simon Barnard

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
In times of high moral outrage at the barbarism of others, it is salutary to be reminded of the state-sanctioned viciousness of Australia’s past. Simon Barnard’s A–Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land does this brilliantly. Australian convict history is a crowded field, but Barnard’s detailed and vivid illustrations breathe fresh life into it. In addition to the many architectural cutaway ... (read more)

Nigel Pearn reviews ten non-fiction children's books

April 2011, no. 330 26 March 2011
Uneven realities Nigel Pearn   The elasticity of fiction, the ‘what if’ – in other words, the genre’s very virtues and interests – are often the characteristics that alienate ‘sensible’ readers. To the literal-minded, literature can present as a self-defeating puzzle. All that pretence is exhausting, irrelevant at best, or, drawing a long line from the Ancient Greeks, morally ... (read more)