As language teachers, we need to believe in three things about the dynamic and transformative power of education:
1. Believe in the innate capacity of children. Children's and students' experiences and dreams are saturated with their own distinctive images and language use. Meanings proliferate here. It is only through an encounter between their developing sense of themselves and the world that fresh perceptions can be validated and used for free thinking and new learning.
2. Believe in the special powers of language. Language itself acts on us directly, obliquely and has a prismatic quality which, through study, allows us to learn by reflection and play. Writing in particular, is a language mode which allows us to hold our ideas long enough to revise, share and hone them. Writing is generative and supports our own discoveries. Although writing has acquired special status in its products - great works of literature - the potential of its process is far less well understood. Through writing we can encounter the chaotic, contradictory, uncertain, complex, numinous and provisional nature of our human condition.
3. Believe in ourselves as writing teachers. By writing together in trusted NWP groups, we develop an expertise - a 'guild knowledge' - that can inform our teaching practice at a deeper level than merely the re-iteration of conventional patterns, structures and approaches - useful though some of those undoubtedly are. We become strengthened and collectively empowered by direct experience of writing, immersion in the process, and discussion of those permissions, structures and books which help. We are no longer dependent on being told by others 'what works' for their ends, but we become insulated from them and truly empowered through our own collective agency. Teachers are strengthened by the restorative, affirmative and creative power of freedom of speech. And education becomes the better for it.
This is important because teachers have a key role to play in the preservation of free-thinking and democracy.
NWP outreach director