Together with Graham Parr and his team from Monash University, NWP(UK) is researching how teachers BECOME writing teachers - and what kind of teachers they become.
We are testing John Dixon's assertion of some 53 years ago, that the writing experiences of pupils is expanded by having teachers who write. We are also trying to learn more about writing teachers' formative experiences.
When teachers reflect on times when their perceptions about writing were influenced, shaped or changed, what do they find? What did they learn about themselves and their contexts? How do these lessons continue to influence their current practice? What further challenges are there for writing teachers in the current climate?
Reading, praise, criticism all feature prominently - and, of course, the experience of creating writing and receiving responses.
The dark privacy of diaries, explosive accolades for subversive writing, and the percussive pleasure of old typewriters are just some of the vignettes which illustrate the power of writing for life which bristles somewhere outside the confines of 'examination writing'.
Here's an example - a blast from the past - from one of the NWP teachers:
My real problems weren’t for sharing. For those I would hide my writing from my friends, scribbling them down on the bus so they were out before I had to face people. These pages, yellowing, dusty and curling in a box somewhere, reflect each juddering pothole of the journey, straight stabs out of place or letters poorly formed between neater scrawls at each bus stop. I can track the route and it reminds me of the journey.
These essential stories inform the work of teachers who want to help pupils discover themselves and their worlds through writing - and to change them. And developing the courage to write alongside our pupils is a common turning point for writing teachers.
I will return to these stories in future blogs.
NWP outreach director