Aussie author cracks the kids up

Scot Gardner and students from Yarra Hills Secondary College. Picture: ROMY STEPHENS

A lucky group of Yarra Hills Secondary College students were inspired by Australian author Scot Gardner on Tuesday 20 August.

The young adult fiction writer, well-known for pieces such as ‘The Dead I Know’ and ‘Changing Gear’, comically presented the inspiration behind his work and helped year 7-10 students develop their own storytelling skills.

The kids, along with their teachers, were in fits of laughter at the Mount Evelyn campus as Scot danced about the front of the stage and made jokes that flawlessly connected with the group.

Scot never lost his audience’s attention as students were enthralled with the conversation and continuously stuck their hands in the air to contribute ideas.

Year 9 student, Cassia Taylor said she really enjoyed the engaging nature of the session.

“It was interesting because he incorporated a lot of his own experiences and didn’t talk about the technical parts of writing stories,” she said.

“We don’t want to do that, that’s what English classes are for.

“Because he talked about his personal experiences and how you’re supposed to put those into your stories, it made it easier to realise why most stories are unique.”

Meanwhile, year 8 student Seth Spenceley said he took lots away from the presentation, but mainly the idea that everyone has an important story to tell.

“Everyone, if they really were self-motivated and wanted to, they probably could be an author,” he said.

“You really need to have your own story to tell, you can’t just try and take other people’s. You need to know what happened so you can put your own twists on it.

“If I was going to write something it would probably help me have more of an idea of how to engage people and how to make them want to actually read my stories.”

Scot grew up in Greensborough until his family moved to Yinnar South when he was a teenager.

He said although that time of his life was boring in terms of family conflict, it was a time in which he started to realise how incredibly complex yet beautiful the world was.

That experience and his ability to never grow up helps inspire the engaging presentations he gives to high school kids.

“I think that part of me never really evolved beyond about 15 years and I think in order to access young people you have to be able to access that part of yourself,” he said.

“If you were to ask my wife how old I was she would say 51 going on about 15 and I think that’s a fair observation.”

Scot’s session involved roughly a one-hour presentation before moving on to a workshop where students were encouraged to write and tell stories about their lives.

Scot said his favourite part about high school sessions is hearing the compelling and unique stories students have to tell.

“Just how unfettered they are, they don’t censor themselves they just tell you like it is,” he said.

“They’re sort of proud of it and unashamed of it and they should be proud of it.”

“It’s a sacred part of their evolution to be able to acknowledge a story.”

To find out more about Scot and his school presentations visit http://scotgardner.com/.