I want people to enjoy writing as though they are enjoying a clean breath.
How pained I feel to meet adults who don't like to write and don't know how to write even after twelve years of required instruction in "language arts." How upsetting to see (for example) third-grade boys gripping their pencils with strained hands, angry faces, renewing their hatred of drawn letters—as if a failed spelling quiz has anything to do with an authentic experience of writing.
Writing is about the spark in the mind, the image, the daring conveyance of image from mouth to ear, the persistence of wondering, the enchantment of story, the determination to get to the bottom of the determined dig, the music of words that roll boldly from the lips.
Pencil skills are something else—the curators of the exhibit, the recorders of the performance. The pencil is not an artistic implement. It is the audio device doing its best in the face of a symphonic performance.
If you want to teach someone to be a musician, why would you train her or him to be an audio-recording engineer? If you want to teach someone to be a writer, why would you focus so obsessively on pencil skills? Look to the mind, not to the wiggle-stick recording device.
This understanding—that writing is an art form not just a scribbling technology—supports all the work I do as a teaching artist. I focus on bringing literature, the art of writing (aka "creative writing") into the English or "language arts" classroom, and I do this by contract at every instructional level, from pre-kindergarten to university.
For a quick review of my teaching career, CLICK HERE
Illustrated Lesson Plans
These lesson plans are part of the Writing Without Pencils project.
Writing Without Pencils is a provocative educational concept—that children can write before they can read. It is being tested by teachers through workshops, collaborations, in-school residencies, new lesson plans, and publications.