It has been organised by First Story, working with several partners such as the English and Media Centre (EMC). EMC has challenged all teachers and their pupils to conduct 'UNGUIDED WRITING' in an initiative entitled 'Let them loose'. 'The view from my window' is a suggested title - treat it literally or metaphorically, as you wish.
The idea is that it is OK to be you: you're allowed to look out of your window and say what you see, without fear of being judged. Sounds impossible? But no - or rather, yes - it's true. Teachers and pupils, can sit down and write together - with no objectives, no word-lists, no plan. Instead, you should rely purely on your own ideas, your own voice, your own words. Then, if you wish, you can send your writing to the EMC for it to be shared online. It sounds a great idea to me, and Barbara Bleiman at the EMC has kindly invited me to go and read what comes in. I look forward to reading what you send, and I will report back on a future blog.
In the background, in my NWP garden, this grass-roots project has been growing. Unfunded, independent, teacher-led, this writing project has, for 8 years, advocated powerful and authentic writing and teaching. This website and a network of teachers' autonomous writing groups have flourished in order to promote teacher and pupil agency, and to nurture creative writing. It hasn't been developed with money, nor with great fanfare, nor does it flower on just one day of the year. It grows freely, quietly and everyday.
So why are such National Writing days needed? Are they celebrations of creativity or fig-leaves to cover a shameful truth? Do freedom and free-thinking regularly renew us and our society, or have they become, ironically, casualties of 'curriculum reform'?
Indeed, the system itself seems to be conflicted - and has been for some time (caged birds blog 2013). How do your own school's writing habits measure up to the Ofsted school report of 2013? What's changed?:
"Lessons can offer too little time to complete writing tasks, and pupils need opportunities to complete extended writing. More emphasis should be placed on creative and imaginative tasks, and on the teaching of editing and redrafting. Letting pupils choose topics, and giving them real audiences, helps make writing relevant and appealing."
Is busyness still a substitute for meaningful learning? :
"senior and middle leaders in schools too often mistake a ‘busy’ lesson for a good one, or adopt an approach to planning, teaching or observing lessons that is overly bureaucratic"
Out of my window on Academic Street, a self-important crowd, as usual, is walking up and down, tut-tutting at any house without stats, interventions and control groups. They care little for the bleedin' obvious. It amazes me that they continue to distrust the resourcefulness of us ordinary mortals to tell our own stories effectively without help. Instead they seem bent on stuffing junk mail through our letter boxes and stifling us with advice. 'Let me give you some good words to use - some 'wow' words, perhaps?' they say. 'Oh,' they say, 'it would be far better if you had started that story with a fronted adverbial. Have you thought of using this framework?' Or maybe, they look at your personal protest poem and ask if you might like to work alongside " ... a REAL, PUBLISHED writer." It's enough to make you spit.
Well said, Eddie!
NWP outreach director