As I reflected on what I could contribute to the effort to blog in support of the National Writing Project (Twitter search #blog4nwp, aggregated at coopcatalyst), I was reminded of my recent post about the NWP’s collaboration with the Maker Faire and Make Magazine, “…write about something that matters.”
The core idea that writing is more meaningful if the topics that one writes about matter to the person who writes may seem obvious, yet it is easily obscured in the helter-skelter of daily teaching in today’s test-driven schools. Mechanics overwhelm content and relevance, discrete skills become reified “measures of mastery,” and the true purpose of learning is lost. It is my work with the Writing Project which grounds me in striving for authenticity as the touchstone not only for writing instruction but for all of my teaching work–in fact, as my most important commitment in life.
I had a pleasant feeling of validation on encountering the following quote in an essay on the Cooperative Catalyst blog by teacherken about Marion Brady’s work on “What’s Worth Teaching:” he cites as #3 of Brady’s criticisms of the traditional curriculum that it
fails to exploit the teaching potential of the real, everyday world.
That’s exactly the charge of writing instruction built on the models developed and presented by Writing Project Fellows and Teacher Consultants at the many workshops we deliver all over the United States: Let’s harness the teaching potential of the real world, and provide our students with the tools to do authentic writing which can change that world.