I’m going to throw down a gauntlet. Are you a teacher with access to a computer, tablet or smartphone? Are you blogging? No? Why not? You should be!
At risk of breaking my question mark key, a couple more questions. How many times a week are you asking children to draft, edit, redraft, pieces of writing, to develop a topic from a few simple ideas into a coherent, well edited piece? How often do you make that demand of yourself? (For clarity, school paperwork doesn’t count!)
The first thing that I’ve found as a newly-enthusiastic blogger is that the more I write, the more ideas I have, and the more I want to write. That’s not in itself any kind of quality control; you should see my drafts folder. What it has achieved is to ensure that fresh ideas are not a prerequisite when the o’clock ticks round to ‘writing time’.
This next realisation took a little longer, but I think it’s key. It’s also at the heart of the (good natured) challenge that was set in the opening sentence. I can feel my writing skill improving, even after only a short time, which I attribute almost entirely to the fact that I am writing for an audience. It’s the simple difference between writing for private consumption and opening yourself up to others’ judgement. That potential makes me think much harder about each sentence:
1. Does it communicate what I intend?
2. Is it grammatically correct and properly spelled?
3. Is it reasonably elegantly and economically rendered?
4. Am I still satisfied when I read it 24 hours later?
Simply by addressing the four questions above, I am gaining emotional and analytical insights into the process of writing, and discovering that it takes a certain amount of persistence, a fair amount of effort, and a liberal splash of honest self-critcism. Is there any better platform from which to teach our students to do the same with their writing? The fact that you also get to be a writing role-model is a bonus.
Yes, it’ll make demands on your already over stretched daily schedule, but come on! Can you really not commit just a few minutes a day to making the first steps? If nothing else, when you do get round to writing that epic work in your chosen œvre, you’ll have done at least a little bit of the donkey work!
So there you go. My aspiration for 2013; every teacher, a writer.
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