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CCCC Position Statement

CCCC Position Statement on the Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers of Writing

Conference on College Composition and Communication, 1982

To provide effective instruction in writing for learners at any age and at all academic levels, teachers need, first of all, experience in writing, and also some theoretical knowledge to guide classroom practice. To help meet this need, the Conference on College Composition and Communication presents this position statement. We hope it will be discussed and followed, in the preparation of teachers of writing at all levels, by college and university English departments, faculty of teacher preparation programs, faculty and administrators in elementary and secondary schools, and staffs of state depart­ments of public instruction.

The recommendations offered here are consistent with those offered in earlier publications of NCTE and CCCC that deal with the preparation of teachers of writing, with findings of research on the composing process, and with studies on the teaching and learning of writing.

I. Programs for the preparation and continuing education of teachers of English and language arts, at all levels, should include opportunities for prospective and active teachers:

  1. to write,
     
    • as a means of
       
      1. developing, shaping, representing, and communicating our per­ceptions of our world, our experiences, our beliefs, and our identity,
      2. finding sensory and aesthetic pleasure in working with and playing with language,
      3. developing our various intellectual skills;
         
    • in a variety of forms, e.g.,
       
      1. prose that attempts to express what we think, feel, and imagine,
      2. poems representing experience and the fruits of imagination,
      3. narratives: autobiographical, fictional, historical,
      4. scripts for performance in class, on television, in film and radio,
      5. informative records and reports;
         
    • in response to a variety of authentic rhetorical situations in which our work will be read and responded to by others, including teachers, classmates, family, and friends; readers of school and community pub­lications; audiences at public readings of our work.
       
  2. to read and respond to the writings of students, classmates, and colleagues,
     
    • making supportive comments that express respect for others' ideas and feelings and encourage writers to use writing as a means of per­sonal, academic, and professional growth,
       
    • asking probing questions that help writers see what they have not expressed clearly and convincingly and what they have not presented effectively (perhaps because their knowledge is limited, or their point of view is narrow, or they do not recognize the implications of what they say).
       
  3. to become perceptive readers of our own writing, so that we can ask questions about, clarify, and reshape what we are trying to express.
     
  4. to study and teach writing as a process,
     
    • by reflecting on how our own writing grows from initial idea to final draft;
       
    • by studying authors' journals and notebooks for indications of their composing processes, and by comparing successive drafts of their work;
       
    • by working with learners while they are composing:
       
      1. exploring interests and experiences, and discovering subjects for writing,
      2. composing first drafts,
      3. rereading and reacting to their own writing, evaluating the clarity and effectiveness of their ideas,
      4. responding to their own questions and reactions and those of other readers,
      5. revising, throughout the steps above,
      6. editing final drafts for punctuation, spelling, usage, and other conventions.
         
  5. to experience writing as a way of learning which engages us in intellectual operations that enable or require us
     
    • to interpret what we experience and discover in light of what we al­ready know, making connections, seeing relationships;
       
    • to re-shape impersonal data into knowledge that is meaningful to us personally;
       
    • to perform essential activities of mind such as analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, testing, asserting;
       
    • to use what we already know in searching for what we don't know, making hypotheses, imagining new patterns.
       
  6. to learn to assess the progress of individual writers by responding to complete pieces of their writing and studying changes in their writing.
     
  7. to study research and other scholarly work in the humanistic discipline of the teaching of writing, including research on
     
    • the development of writing abilities and styles
       
    • the ways in which language "means,"
       
    • the theory of discourse,
       
    • how the English language works,
       
    • the composing processes of individual writers,
       
    • the rhetorical effects of different pieces of writing.
       
  8. to study writing in relation to other disciplines,
     
    • to learn the insights offered by
       
      1. applied linguistics (including language acquisition and develop­ment and second language learning; sociolinguistics, including study of dialects; psycholinguistics i. e., the study of the way human beings process language),
      2. psychology: cognitive and interpersonal,
      3. history and anthropology;
         
    • to learn what is asked of writers by professionals in other disciplines, including
       
      1. the arts of language,
      2. the fine and performing arts,
      3. history,
      4. the social sciences,
      5. the natural sciences.

II. To enable teachers of English and language arts to develop the practical and theoretical knowledge recommended here, CCCC urges

  1. 1. college and university English departments
     
    • to provide opportunities for the faculty to develop knowledge of theory and skill in the teaching of writing,
       
    • to develop undergraduate and graduate courses that offer the experi­ences enumerated in I,
       
    • to require that courses in literature ask students to write, give them guidance in writing, give them supportive and probing re­sponses to their writing, and encourage them to view writing as a way of reacting to and learning about literature.
       
  2. faculty of teacher education programs
     
    • to provide prospective and active teachers the opportunities listed under I,
       
    • to assure that prospective and active teachers have the opportunities to work with individual learners and groups of learners, so that these teachers can apply what they are learning from the theories and prac­tice of writing discussed in I,
       
    • to work with state departments of education in assuring that the em­phases in I are incorporated into the criteria for
       
      1. approving teacher education programs
      2. certifying teachers of English.
         
  3. teachers and administrators in elementary and secondary schools
     
    • to provide opportunities for all teachers of English and language arts to develop theoretical knowledge and skill as teachers of writing,
       
    • to encourage teachers to give their students the experiences with writ­ing listed in I, 1-5,
       
    • to assist teachers in learning to respond to students' writing and assess their progress as writers.
       
  4. staffs of state department of public instruction
     
    • to work with faculties in teacher education on assuring that the em­phases in I are incorporated into the criteria for
       
      1. approving teacher education programs,
      2. certifying teachers of English,
         
    • to give moral and financial support to in-service programs in writing for elementary and secondary teachers of English.

This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.

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