In July, Jeni and I were lucky to meet with Richard Sterling, ex-director of NWP US. It was a scorching hot day when it seemed as though he and his partner (Christine, another life-changing teacher!) had brought their California sun to Suffolk. They are always so encouraging. We spoke about teacher agency and reflective practice, and of never underestimating the power of active and articulate teachers working together. As you can see from our 'teacher testimonies' we are collecting answers from writing teachers to questions such as 'What have you learned about yourself as a writer?' (Pat d'Arcy's question), and 'What do you consider to have been your most successful teaching of writing - and why?'
Also, Morlette Lindsey (NWP IoE group leader) tells me that Terry Locke from NWP NZ, has just published his book, 'Developing Writing Teachers' (Routledge 2014), which describes the transformational experience of teachers as writers in New Zealand. The blurb reads "When teachers of writing identify as writers, it adds a special dimension to their writing pedagogy." This seems to echo the experience in NWP across the world.
In the UK we have repeatedly witnessed the personal as well as professional benefits of teachers writing - Alice Walker again: "I think writing really helps you heal yourself. I think if you write long enough, you will be a healthy person (see also my 10.5.2014 blog on James Pennebaker). That is, if you write what you need to write, as opposed to what will make money, or what will make fame." We hope that Routledge will publish some of the NWP UK story next year.
Holidays with food, drink, conversation and supportive friendship (as well as writing!) are powerful restoratives, bringing sustaining quotations from favourite writers:
Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.
(Alice Walker, again!)
NWP outreach director