In Profile: Peter Young
Peter Young now lives in Denmark and is singer-songwriter with Bluevale and editor-publisher of the educational newspaper - The School Times International.
After ten years of teaching at a school in Denmark Peter Young, who previously lived in Dennistoun, began creating his own English materials. His idea was to produce short, up-to-date texts for his students. This was to break the monotony of the ageing text books which his school could not afford to replace - and to encourage his students to take a more active interest in the world around them.
He set about gathering press releases about forthcoming movies, musicians in the news, life in Britain, technological breakthroughs, social issues, and so on. However, they were all in a form that his students could not understand or relate to. So he set about re-writing everything in plain English and - thanks to 10 years in the trade - he came up with texts that not only his students enjoyed, but that his colleagues wished to borrow. Combined with the texts were simple grammatical exercises, word puzzles, and English to English explanations of difficult words and phrases.
Acting on a suggestion that he should offer his texts to other teachers he printed a small ad and sent it out to local schools. And to cut a six-year story short he now edits and publishes The School Times International, a 16-page monthly 'newspaper'. 'We have used precious little advertising,' says Peter Young, 'but our publication is now read in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, and Germany.'
The School Times International also offers audio CD's and tapes - on average two articles in each issue can be heard on audio. This means that teachers can now rest their voices and let their students hear up-to-date interviews and texts with and by native English speakers.
One of the main keys to the success of The School Times International is the fact that subscribing schools are permitted to photocopy the articles and exercises for internal use. This makes the publication immensely good value for money for schools, especially those on a tight budget.
Three years ago The School Times International established an internet presence. 'Our web site is a service for our subscribers as well as being a "shop window". Students and teachers can find links for more information on the stories covered. And interested teachers can download sample articles and audio without cost.'
Recently, Peter Young was contacted by schools in England and the USA wanting to subscribe. He explained that his publication was not intended for English-speaking countries as such. However, teachers at both schools were enthusiastic and immediately ordered a year's subscription. 'My original goal was to get The School Times International into every school or school library in Denmark. But that goal has now changed,' he says. Editorially, The School Times International is rather conservative. 'We shy away from violent media 'heroes', musicians doing drugs, and scandal in general. We have a captive audience and that means we have a great responsibility. Anyway, the Media in general is top-heavy with murder, mayhem, catastrophe and disaster. Young people need to know that there are many good things going on in our world. Why concentrate on the world's troublemakers and bullies? They get enough free PR as it is. We're also subscription funded and include no advertising. Teachers appreciate that.'
Peter Young formed Bluevale in 1999 as a vehicle for his own music. The name gives a clue to the inspiration for some of his work, as Peter says: "Some of the stuff is related to childhood memories in Dennistoun". Sample titles available for Windows Media Player are - Go Down Roslea, Young Child, Not The Only One and Lost Lives.
The School Times International
voice: Copenhagen +45 4913 3394
London Office: 0208 381 4207
fax: +45 4971 7755