Tuesday, February 8, 2011

September 1976: Writing Teachers Write--Don't They?

Archive 20: Articles and ideas published in the 20th century on the teaching of English that are still useful in the 21st century.

Question: How can writing teachers demonstrate their methods of writing?

Answer: When the students asked once again why the teacher didn’t write and publish, he decided to write and publish with the students’ help. Using an overhead projector, he and the students wrote his article together, discussing much about the writing process along the way. The article was published. The students learned a lot about how the teacher wrote and therefore learned a lot about writing.

The following is a quote from the article:
“When I took piano lessons, my teacher used to show me how each new piece should be played before she expected me to begin working on it. My baseball coach spent hours showing me how to stand at the plate, how to hold the bat, how to swing, and how to slide. My swimming instructor often got into the pool with me to demonstrate a new stroke or just to swim along with me and offer encouragement. But my writing teachers had always given me paper and a topic, and they expected me to perform. When I got my paper back, the errors were marked, and there was usually some word of encouragement at the end. No one had ever actually shown me how to write, and I had never actually shown my students how to write. But this time was different, and I knew it was good just by the feeling I got from the class.”

Title: “To Teach Them to Write—Write.” Howard Mortimer. English Journal (September 1976), 57-58.

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