Finding, extending and losing - ourselves in other people's stories, is one of the chief delights of reading. And, once the imagination has been awakened, it can lend momentum to writing which freely explores those resonances between ourselves and 'other'. It is what we do in the literature classrooms in support of pupils' personal, intellectual and moral growth. But how many teachers can speak from experience of recently writing themselves, and how many have the time and space for a free professional discussion of the potential of 'writing for learning'?
NWP(UK) provides a space - 20 teachers' writing groups - for those who have the time and interest to find out, first hand, more about this thing we teach called 'writing'. A new NWP group will be launched in Penrith on October 11th. These groups are run by experienced and committed volunteers who recognise that, in these times, free thinking is critical to the health of our profession.
As for our pupils, so for ourselves, learning deepens when in connects to our own backgrounds - when it includes our own stories. We teach better those things about which we are most enthusiastic and knowledgeable; other people's lesson plans just don't cut it. Because the dynamic of learning springs from active relationships rather the dull rotes of cold facts. So it is that the NWP project has always attended to, cultivated and drawn on teachers' own writing experience and learning histories, and provided creative and critical forums in which they can flourish.
Over the recent weeks and months, I have been setting up an international study to take our work further. We will be exploring teachers' writing histories - in the UK and Australia - with Australian colleagues from Monash University, Melbourne. By collecting written and oral evidence and by reflecting together about the contexts where writing thrives, we hope to learn more about what learning to write has to offer pupils - and teachers - beyond securing high test scores. We are also interested in:
- shifting perceptions of writing - the sites and causes of 'conflict' about writing
- cross-curricular writing pedagogies
- distribution of creative opportunities from school to school
- the consequences of writing histories for writing futures.
If any UK teachers of writing would like to participate in this research, please let me know by using the contact button.
We have also been preparing for the third NWP writing residential will take place Sunday 21 - Tuesday 23 October 2018 at High Leigh Conference Centre in Hertfordshire. These courses provide space for teachers to explore their own writing, and a trusted community where they can refine their understanding of approaches, and reflect with others on particular aspects of pedagogy. For example, past residentials have focused on the uses of free writing, and on the uses of response partnership. This year the focus will be on narrative - varieties, approaches, contexts and applications for learning. Click here to find out more or book your place.
NWP outreach director