The Oxford group of writing teachers also reflected on what a year of such monthly meetings at the Story Museum had meant to them :
- ‘I find myself writing over and over again about Rwanda.’
- ‘I’m unlocking the door to a part of myself ... writing it down makes it seem real.’
- ‘In the writing group I can be myself - but someone else too. When I write, I feel like a child again, relieved of the heaviness of workload.’
- ‘I become lost yet found in the present moment ... it gives me the space to organise my thoughts ... it gives me the courage to share elsewhere.’
- ‘The writing group is ‘something for me’ – I discover a quiet sense of purpose, yet I don’t know where I’m going till I get there... It’s really helped in class.’
- ‘At first my writing stutters, I search for the right words ... but when I say to myself ‘it doesn’t matter’, there’s a shower of words ... and I find myself at the still centre of a storm.’
Because of such discoveries, made through their own shared creativity, writing teachers find it beneficial to create similar opportunities for their pupils. They retune their classrooms to be more receptive to new voices, new processes, new conversations. They allow non-judgmental spaces in which to hold and value provisional and personal positions. The freshness of genuine, emergent understanding inspires and reassures others who may also be uncertain.
Deeper learning happens when, instead of rushing to copy other people's answers, pupils are allowed time to be more fully ‘present’ in their writing, to acknowledge difficulty - and to ask questions. As Harold Rosen argued, classrooms should be places where everybody’s language - however various, tentative or discordant - is for learning.
NWP outreach director