‘The best freewrites are of course wild, that is ludic, exploratory, transgressive and syntactically feral. .... The best writing does not emerge through narrow commercial imperatives or through a checklist of techniques, a dry naming of parts. We must create a culture of learning, knowledge, open-mindedness, exploration, and invention.’
With similar issues of teacher education in mind, Jeni and I met last week to refine our plans for the first NWP residential. 10 experienced writing teachers will join us in October to review what has been learnt from the first seven years of the project. Our aim is to secure writing’s position in a pedagogy of the imagination, strengthen the network of teachers’ writing groups, and thereby contribute to the conversation about writing in education.
Be it personal, social or professional, writing engages the heart and challenges the mind. Writing has a wide reach and the power to reorient learning. Writing may be playful or prescribed, tender or explosive, long drawn out or dashed off in a jiffy, exploratory or particular, undertaken with others or alone; writing may be private and provisional - or it may be edited, high-stakes, public, judged. With such a range, writing’s scope can seem so unmanageable for schools, that prioritising convention may seem reasonable. But when this happens, writing’s dynamic potential to enable all learners to discover themselves and the world can, ironically, be lost.
However, by having a safe space to write and reflect, writing teachers can, with the conviction born of experience, re-orient themselves professionally and, by providing pupils with a fuller experience of writing, better help them to experiment, adopt strategies, make choices and find their voices.
For any writing teacher unfamiliar with the benefits of writing groups, there is an opportunity to take part in one, this Thursday, 11 August, at the Tate Modern, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Fill in the contact form for further details.