Her most recent paper on writing is ‘Learning to Write: Ploughing and Hoeing’ (2016) in which she argues that whenever a high premium is set on ‘writing up’ what is expected (what will fulfil certain assessment criteria or research protocols), then writing which expresses or generates thought falls out of fashion. What follows is a ‘hegemony of the mundane’.
Her concern for the preservation of free and critical thought led to a community project in Leeds: it was aimed at engaging the public in philosophical debate and promoted the beneficial social effects of genuine dialogue. One participant remarked afterwards, “I feel like I’ve been woken up.”
Speaking your own thoughts and feelings confidently, in your own voice, seems like a sign of a sound education. To brighten our future, we each need to be fully present in this cultural conversation - not just a puppet on someone else's arm.
see the exhibition of writing and a fuller commentary (this link was refreshed 7/7/2017)
Free writing of this kind should regularly open and extend learning. Writers will also benefit
- from discussion of personal processes and of the many affordances of writing (not just for the sake of grades, but the sake of itself/ oneself/our selves),
- from listening to what is distinctive and new, rather than conventional, in each other’s writing,
- and from reflection on what may help and hinder.
In such a spirit of release and discovery, NWP groups and workshops explored in June how we can wake up to texts and ourselves when they are used as sounding-boards for connections at all kinds of levels from the literal to the metaphorical and associative, to the deeply personal. (Such reading/writing approaches are outlined in Weekly write 8.)
"Writing groups allow for the development of a deeper professional identity which is not institutionally specific. The writing group is often mentioned as a therapeutic antidote to some of the more closed practices in schools. In the permissive, non-judgemental, mind-expanding environment of a writing group, it is easier to experiment, develop writing confidence, and question popular assumptions about writing (cf affordances) and discuss classroom approaches more openly and independently. This leads to new thinking about what might be desirable in classrooms." (extract from 2017 summary)
It's a tribute to the hours spent developing professional agency. Over the next week I shall be visiting NWP groups in Leyburn, Halifax and Cambridge. I will report back in a future blog.
If you'd like to experience writing in an NWP group, why not come and write with us at the Tate Modern on August 15th? Use the contact form - or join a writing group.
NWP outreach director