2016 was a year in which the 7 year-old, grass-roots project continued to grow through further publications and workshops, the launch of new groups, and the success of the project’s first residential.
In the autumn 2016 edition of English in Education, NWP group leader, Theresa Gooda, has an article entitled: ‘If we teach writing, we should write’. Theresa advocates NWP approaches, in particular the use of free-writing in literary studies to explore the themes and structures in texts. Hers is part of the growing evidence that practising teachers can lead writing reform and that there are personal, social, pedagogic and professional benefits of belonging to autonomous NWP teachers’ writing groups.
Some NWP plans for 2017:
- Jeni will convene a group of university lecturers to support the practice and research into writing in teachers’ initial and continuing education. The group’s first meeting will be at the Whitechapel gallery on Saturday 21 Jan.
- Three new NWP groups launch in January/February 2017.
- An open NWP workshop – free to all teachers - will be held at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on 21 June.
- The project’s second 3-day writing residential in October half-term.
On 7 January, I launched Bedford monthly writing group at the Higgins museum and gallery. Writers dipped into their own ‘museum of memories’ before browsing the pictures and glass cases. Memoir, polemic and fantasy sprouted from portraits, teapots and porcelain figurines, and the museum resonated with story.
This builds on NWP’s partnerships and experience of writing in public spaces. By displaying written responses alongside some of the exhibits , the museum can become more of a dialogic space with its community.
There are implications here for writing classrooms, and the accompanying photographs show that teachers should never underestimate how potent or long-lived may be the words of encouragement or discouragement they give to young writers. Some 50 years later, the memories of how teachers responded to the 7 and 8 year old writer are still very much alive.
On 11 Feb, NWP Leyburn, North Yorks, launches with group leader, Sarah Beveridge.
If you are a UK writing teacher, please do join a writing group - for free - or use the contact form to ask about starting another. By gathering together to write, teachers are making life-changing differences, not only for themselves, but for their pupils too.
NWP outreach director.