Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Nation of Writers

I love to be with people who have a passion for education. Yesterday, I was able to meet with some leaders of my organization to plan for an upcoming series we will host on "Changing Perspectives: 21st Century Learning." We've been reinvigorated in our region with some initiatives and it was great to collaborate and harness our collective wisdom.

One of the pieces that we will be hosting will be on educators as writers. It has long been interesting to me that many educators don't consider themselves writers. And it makes me wonder about what the definition of a "writer" is. The Free Online Dictionary defines a writer as (1)writes (books or stories or articles or the like) professionally (for pay) and (2) a person who is able to write and has written something. It seems to me that most of us fall under the category of (2) - although we might not practice it much!

In a recent blog post by Roy Peter Clark (one of my favorite feeds), Clark lays out ways for us to create a "nation of writers" as inspired by the late Donald Murray. In the words of Clark;

"Murray left us -– students, teachers, writers all –- a path to follow. He dedicated his life to a simple proposition: that the act of writing was not a magical power possessed by a precious few. Writing was a process, a craft, a set of tools within reach of us all."

I know that lots of folks are worried about the state of writing. And many blame technology for some of that - "look at the kids IM'ing - it's not even a real language", "no one cares about spelling anymore - they just use spellcheck" and on and on. But I liked the take of a recent news article that argues that "rapid fire lingo" actually shows that our language is evolving!

As my team and I have learned more about the new technologies available to us, we have begun to adopt them as a matter of doing business. We all have tried our hand at blogs and wikis, we use Google Docs and more recently Google Groups. We are trying to find out how they "fit" into our work - as opposed to just adding them on. Some have adopted these easily - for others it is a bit of a struggle. But it has helped us grow as a team and interestingly, as writers.

Embracing the new technology is not easy. But we are educating our students for a world that we are not experiencing today, and in fact are not even sure what it will look like. Integrating the technology is not throwing out the old, looking at screen still requires reading and typing an email still requires writing. We just need to find a balance and teach our students which language is appropriate when.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I started a comment and then wandered away - sorry! I remember seeing that article you linked to and thinking about the ever evolving concept of literacy. A nation of writers is a great idea if you can conceive of writing as more than just pencil to paper. There's what? Hundreds of thousands of blogs out there? That many people feel that they are not only writers but what they say is of interest to others. The issue of which language when is relevant regardless of where we are in our lives. Spelling doesn't count if Skype but do people thing less of my writing ability when it's clear I can't spell?