Most writing objectives are anyway derived from generalities and conventions. They will need translating into particularities of context, and re-orienting to new purposes and identities. They need to be flexible enough to accommodate new perceptions. They need to be open to change. They need to be ready to stand aside when something better comes along. Unless the learner is emotionally involved, unless she can connect, unless she can own the learning rather than be swallowed up by it, then shallow or stilted writing will result.
It may be less the objective than its translation that matters. Maybe the learning should be less pulled by the prescribed outcome than pushed by the authentic process - and by its subjects.
James Durran explores the writing landscape in his excellent article 'Objectifying English' (NATE's 'Teaching English' magazine Summer 2015). His shrewd analysis makes for sobering reading:
"In the drive to be 'good or outstanding', many English departments are drying out their plans and schemes, reducing English to a set of mechanistic skills and taking the richness out of the curriculum."
James discusses the critical importance of how teachers 'frame' the learning:
"A skilled and experienced teacher may well recruit learners' engagement, secure their intellectual or emotional investment and ensure that there is challenge, despite any formal codes or procedures for the setting of objectives."
Familiarity and confidence with this dynamic of writing - the relationships within it and the conversations around it - are very much needed now. Unfortunately, under pressure to 'raise standards' in tests, much CPD money is wasted on patronising training in schemes, structures and conventions which, while they enrich the providers, turn pupils off learning and teachers off teaching. Meanwhile teachers could do themselves and their pupils more good by joining an NWP writing group. And it's free. (Read recent teacher testimony)
NWP outreach director