Sunday, March 1, 2009

Writing is changing as we watch

In "Writing in the 21st Century," Jane Blake Yancey takes a stab at understanding how word processing, internet research, internet publishing, and on-line social networks are changing the writing process:
Perhaps most important, seen historically this 21st century writing marks the beginning of a new era in literacy, a period we might call the Age of Composition, a period where composers become composers not through direct and formal instruction alone (if at all), but rather through what we might call an extracurricular social co-apprenticeship.
I've seen those co-apprenticeships at work: my oldest was commenting on blogs before I knew what blogs were, my middle child attaches small essays to her on-line art work, and my youngest has been known to spend hours in typed "conversation" about World of Warcraft. The core process of putting ideas together for others to read is part of their daily routine. Teaching kids with those digital skills is going to take new models and ideas.

Yancey, a past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, offers an agenda for thinking through those changes, focused on the development of "citizen writers." She offers two examples of how the citizens in question are already shaping their world: one who used e-mail quickly and urgently to get neighbors rescued in a Florida flood, and a group who quietly arranged for the phrase "This is Sparta" to appear in more than 30,000 Advanced Placement essays last spring. For more of her thinking on how to respond, download the nine-page report here.

1 comment:

  1. Among many other paradigm shifts I think will be helpful in the new technology age is one that allows us to view learning as less and less teacher directed and more and more learner-inspired. In the online world, where titles and age are not immediately visible, young people have better opportunities than ever before to engage their peers and elders alike. Enabling natural leadership to emerge strikes me as a very positive development in the universe of web-based learning.


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