The Age of Composition

Miranda Clemson’s left a comment on a recent post of mine and included a link to an eSchool News Article: NCTE defines writing for the 21st Century Right away I was interested in the article. Our school has just adopted and is implementing the Lucy Calkin’s Reading and Writing Program. I was interested to learn what the National Council of Teachers of English would have to say about 21st Century writing. I liked the direction of the article, and so on the last page I decided to download the White Paper by Kathleen Blake Yancey titled: Writing in the 21st Century.I’ve been interested in finding out why our school decided to adopt the Lucy Calkin’s method of teaching reading and writing and after reading the paper by Yancey, I understand why. When the future is unknown, we tend to look backwards; looking backwards to the 70s and 80s when writing became a process. You all know the process of writing right? We believed writing to be a process one goes through and not a subject one studies. Yancey puts it this way: …the promise of composing process as developing theory and classroom practice was truncated by several factors, among them two that are related: (1) the formalization of the process itself, into a narrow model suitable for (2) tests designed by a testing industry that too often substitutes a test of grammar for a test of writing and that supports writing, when it does, as an activity permitted in designated time chunks only, typically no more than 35-minute chunks. I got thinking about this and my own education. Reflecting on it, I feel that too often a test of grammar was substituted for a test of writing (not to say my grammar is perfect by any means). Yancey goes on to say that just about the time this process of writing is making it’s mark on education and education starts to really adopt it, along comes a little thing called the personal computer. Which over the course of the next 20 years will revolutionize the way we write, communicate and who we expect to be able to write to and for. My favorite quote from the article says it best: 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...

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