This Saturday, October 20, 2012, is the official National Day on Writing in the United States. Starting in 2009, the National Council of Teachers of English has helped to sponsor an official day (recognized by a US Senate bill) to officially recognize the writing that people in this country do. It focuses not only on academic writing but personal, professional and civic writing and means to draw attention to the importance of literacy and writing in our every day lives. On the NCTE website about the National Day on Writing, there are three bullet points that provide focus for the reasoning behind establishing such a day.
The National Day on Writing (www.ncte.org/dayonwriting/about)
- points to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university (see The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor),
- emphasizes the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions, and
- encourages Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.
Through this process, NCTE has helped to create awareness of and draw attention to the need for writing instruction not only among educators, but people of all ages and professions. As I think about this day in terms of the students who enter classrooms every day, I think it’s important to recognize the writing that they do that may not seem to be “writing” to those who did not grow up in this digital age. Instant messages, texts, message boards and other forms of digital media are a part of the writing that students engage in on a regular basis and, whether we like it or not, are influencing the way they compose their thoughts and ideas. There are implications there and we must recognize the importance of these types of writing in our culture. Students writing now more than ever because of their ability to reach a more global audience. To a great extent, most of the writing that they do is no longer for their teachers, they write for each other and themselves. Because of this, writing instruction must no longer only occurs in the English classroom but must be incorporated into all curricular areas recognizing its importance in all areas of life and school.
While I do not plan to sit down and specifically set aside some time to write this Saturday, I will be aware of the writing that I do for non work-related purposes and I’ll talk to my own kids about the writing that they do. I encourage you to think about the ways and reasons you write and reflect on what writing looks like for the students who come to your classroom. Do they write for the same reasons you do or are their purposes different than your own? Are they excited about writing? Are you? Why or why not?
If you’re interested in reading some of the ways people are celebrating and using the National Day on Writing, take a look at the following links.
- National Gallery of Writing – this is an archive of pieces that have been submitted to NCTE to celebrate and participate.
- Celebrations – list of events from communities and schools.
- Writing Resources
- Search for #WhatIWrite on Twitter on Friday and Saturday to see how people around the world share their writing stories.