Through a series of lists, conversations, stories and reflections, we circled our way into writing about our holidays. Sitting silently alongside each other, we retrieved , re-discovered and re-shaped what this July and August had meant to us – and in that re-creation, we breathed the restorative oxygen of memory and identity, replenishing ourselves and each other by holding those summer days and living them a second time.
On the journey there and back I listened to the radio – stories of self-harm – young lives oppressed and disappeared by the pressures of 21st century life. And I thought that one of the most valuable things this project has done is to restore teachers to themselves and give them the strength and courage to let a different kind of meaningful writing flourish in groups and classrooms. They have used ‘re-creative’ writing as an antidote to the poisons of acquisition, ‘levelling’ and segregation, and have rediscovered writing’s power to bond groups, and to elicit and honour each true witness.
And to those who dismiss all this as a load of therapeutic clap-trap, I would say that such full attention to self and others, through words both considered and playful, is not just ‘a way of being in the world’ but is essential for deep learning. It’s ‘the proper study’. Anything less is thin and partial.
For any teacher would like to come and write and find out more, on October 8, this coming Saturday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, there is an open NWP meeting for writing and thinking. Simply fill in the contact form with your name and school/institution. Participation is free – just bring a notebook and pen.
On October 21, NWP has been asked to run training in London to give writing teachers confidence in themselves as writers - and to provide a number of ways in to writing in GCSE timed conditions!
On October 23-25, NWP hosts its first writing residential at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Norfolk.
On November 17, Jeni and I will contribute NWP’s perspective to the NATE ITE symposium at the British Library: Communities of Practice: Participation and Resistance.
On June 17 next year, in conjunction with the Whitechapel Art Gallery, NWP will lead a free day’s course for teachers about writing in galleries and museums. Please do come.
... and do join a writing group - it's free.
NWP outreach director