My senior year of high school I wrote about a million scholarship essays. In nearly every single one I was asked to describe what I was planning to major in at college and why. Each time I would type out an answer describing how I was planning to major in secondary English education because I wanted to someday be able to instill a love for reading and writing in others like it once instilled in me. Though I still hope to (at least once) be the catalyst that allows a student to go on to have a lifelong love for the world of books and taking pen to paper, this semester has taught me that this won’t always be the case. English class, particularly writing, is going to mean something different for each of my students. It is my duty to respect and support that. This is just one lesson of many, however. As the semester draws to a close, here are three highlights from Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing.
1.) Learning about the (More Complete Version) of the History of Writing
In high school my two favorite subjects (besides weights class, shout out to Mr. K) were English and history, so it was quite enjoyable to blend the two together (as if they weren’t inextricably connected anyway). My area of research was 19th century rhetoric and the teaching of writing (check out A Super Niche Post, Just for You!), and it was fascinating for me to simultaneously see how far we have come in writing education while also realizing how much farther we have to go. In addition, back in January and February it was fun diving into a class where we (the students) were the one’s teaching our findings. Learning about Liberty Rhetoric from Miah, Madeleine de Scudéry from Carlie, literacy among slaves from Regan, and many other topics was a delightful experience. It not only gave each of us in the class a taste of what is to come in the years ahead with our chosen careers, but it also provided each of us an opportunity to read, support, and gain knowledge from the writing of our peers— an opportunity we may not have otherwise had.
2.) Exploring the People and Disciplines That Have Shaped Writing
Had I ever heard about bell hooks before this class? No. Am I glad that I know about her now? Yes. Is it because I will now someday write my own pen name in lowercase letters? …Maybe. Seriously, it was fascinating to learn about some of the most influential people in the realm of the written word. Whether they staunchly believed in conventions (Adams Sherman Hill), fought radically for African American women’s rights (bell hooks), or created incredibly complex theories on power (Michael Foucault) each had an impact on the world of writing in their own way. It was important for me to learn of their contributions because soon when I am making my own contributions in the classroom I can be a well-informed teacher.
3.) Discovering My Own Teaching Writing Pedagogy
This had the most impact on me. Based off of all of the information that was presented to me over the last sixteen weeks, I was able to craft my own beliefs of what the teaching of writing should look like. I know exactly why it was my favorite assignment; it is something tangible that physically shows how close I am to achieving my dream of becoming a high school English teacher. In a few short years, I will take my pedagogy (and my letter, and my principles) and use it as the foundation of my classroom. Thanks to this course right now I know more about writing education than I ever have before, and I am grateful to have gone through the learning process with so many other wonderful future teachers.
Though I no longer have the belief that all students will one day love writing like I do, I now have something that senior-year me did not have— an understanding that writing is a unique process. This concept has been demonstrated throughout the history of writing, throughout the people who have shaped writing, and now it will continue to be carried out in my future English classroom. It is safe to say my ideas on writing have been revolutionized. Soon I will take those ideas out into the great beyond, but for now I will apply them to myself in my own education… focusing on changing my own little corner of the world for better.