К 95-летию со дня рождения Lyn Wendon, с которым мы поздравляем создательницу Letterland 29 июля, перепечатываю здесь для российских читателей взятое мною интервью с Lyn несколько лет назад для международного портала Woman Influence Community Forum, где оно и было опубликовано.
Please tell us why you have chosen this way of influence to share and how fulfilling this role has influenced your own life or career?
Three children under three years old can be quite a challenge. I loved those early family years, but I can tell you there wasn’t much time for anything else! When our little flock gradually reached school age, I wanted to take a teaching job. «No way,» said my husband, whose job was a 2hr journey away from home. «What if they all get measles or mumps or chicken pox and you aren’t there!» Looking back, I can see that his insistence that I be a stay-at-home Mum set the course of my life in an unexpectedly fascinating direction. I did take up teaching, but only very part time, just seeing a few children on a one-to-one basis who were struggling to learn to read. Reading, I quickly realized, is the one area of the school curriculum no child can afford to fail because without this skill he or she is excluded from the rest of the curriculum.
Please, share a role-related mission statement expressing how you try and live your life personally and professionally?
I just could not tolerate the idea that children should fail at school. I thought if there is any way I can prevent that from happening – that’s what I need to do with my life
Please share with us briefly how you reached where you are today and what were the biggest challenges you faced along the way?
I could not find any good published materials, so I started making my own. Kitchen table stuff, except that we didn’t have a kitchen table in our small kitchen, so it was the dining room table that I filled with papers and drawings, and then I had to clear everything away every time we sat down to eat!
More than 50 years later I still have that problem (even though we have a bigger dining room table), because in those intervening years making sure that all children have a safe passage to literacy has become a continuous passion. Our dining room table is still the drawing board for ideas, sketches, puzzle designs, stories, workbook plans, video scripts, and more recently voice-over scripts to go with animation in our new software for schools. Only now it all happens under the umbrella of a company which my husband and I formed back in 1968.
Please, share one or several most important achievements or career highlights that you have achieved when carrying out your selected way of influence.
At first, we called the company Pictogram Supplies and found secretarial help among our neighbours in our village. I designed a box of cards, the first Teacher’s Guide, some wall charts. I learnt about printing and production, wrote lyrics for songs, commissioned music, and even designed the boxes to protect the various items in the post. When orders came in from teachers who had read several articles I wrote about Letterland, or attended talks which I gave, I packed the products and took them up the road to the local Post Office myself. I remember with pride when we qualified for a Post Office van to collect from our door because we were sending out over 1000 parcels a year.
Cutting a long story short, our little home business grew and grew! We realized we weren’t just suppliers. We had become publishers. So, we changed our name to Letterland Ltd. We didn’t have any sales representatives. The children and their parents and the teachers who used the system just spread the word because it worked.
Both then and now, many British, Scottish and Irish teachers like moving abroad for a year or more of teaching overseas, and because they tend to take their Letterland materials with them and persuade their next schools to adopt the system, we soon realized that, what began as a remedial technique on my dining room table, was also effective for main stream class teaching and for teaching English as a foreign language. Back in 1988 British ITV Channel screened 12 episodes featuring Letterland. This was a big surprise that came about because the TV producer who wanted to create the series had found out about Letterland through one of her daughters who enjoyed learning to read with it so much at school.
Since 2008 a Letterland Day is held in a park in North Carolina each year . The unique learning environment that is created when teachers and children join each other and pretend together goes way beyond anything I imagined would be so shareable when I first found myself becoming a publisher.
Skipping in time, the name Letterland Ltd has lengthened into Letterland International Ltd, and the books, games, workbooks, activity books, puzzles, videos, DVDs and CD’s and interactive software we have since produced are all stocked, picked and packed for us by a large warehouse and distribution company. Orders come in and parcels go out to over 100 countries. We are always intrigued to learn how very different the teaching circumstances are from here in England in some of the far away classrooms where Letterland is now also taught.
Actually I would like to find a way of using this story to give credit where it is really due, and that is to the creativity of many teachers in the way they have implemented the system, and before that, my struggling readers who came up with some of the best ideas in it!
Please share a statement of what you believe to be the most important change we need to achieve with our community to support women globally in the future:
I never saw myself as a career woman and still don’t. But if you find, as I did, a way to make a positive difference in people’s lives — be they young or old — go with it! You will find that all the hard work involved does not feel like hard work, or even like work at all. Instead it feels more like a privilege.