Good writing may be the quintessential 21st century skill.
Just as the nature of and expectation for literacy has changed in the past century and a half, so has the nature of writing. Today people write as never before—texting, on blogs, with video cameras and cell phones, and, yes, even with traditional pen and paper. People write at home, at work, inside and out of school.
Literacy education and literacy practices are in the midst of a profound change.
- Our schools and our nation need to recognize and validate the many ways we all are writing.
- We need to develop new models of writing, design a new curriculum supporting those models, and create models for teaching that curriculum.
- We need to make sure that all students have the opportunity to write and learn in intellectually stimulating classrooms.
- We need to recognize that out-of-school literacy practices are as critical to students’ development as what occurs in the classroom and take advantage of this to better connect classroom work to real-world situations that students will encounter across a lifetime.
A new series of reports from NCTE calls for support for 21st century writing and writers both in and out of school :
- Writing in the 21st Century, by Kathleen Blake Yancey, NCTE past president and Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English at Florida State University, where she directs the doctoral program in rhetoric and composition, discusses the centrality of writing in school, the workplace, and civic society, reminding us that writing is everybody’s business.
- The Genteel Unteaching of America's Poor, by Kylene Beers, NCTE president and senior reading advisor to secondary schools, Reading and Writing Project, Teachers College, discusses how important it is that all students experience a rich, intellectually rigorous curriculum filled with all sorts of writing.
- Writing between the Lines—and Everywhere Else, the third in a series of NCTE reports on writing and 21st century literacies, focuses on the nexus of in- and out- of-school writing.
Crash! The Currency Crisis in American Culture, by NCTE President-elect Carol Jago notes, “Of all types of writing, writing about literature may seem the least practical [but] “writing about literature disciplines the mind. . . It requires deep reading and analytical thinking—skills that will serve students well whatever their futures may hold.”
The National Council of Teachers of English has undertaken three important initiatives to define and promote 21st century writing:
National Day on Writing
- To draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft, NCTE has established October 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing.
National Gallery of Writing
- To celebrate composition in all its forms, we are inviting diverse participants --students, teachers, parents, grandparents, service and industrial workers, managers, business owners, legislators, retirees and many more -- to submit a piece of writing to the which will be a digital archive of samples that exhibit how and why Americans are writing every day, accessible to all through a free, searchable website.
National High School and College Writing Awards
- NCTE, in partnership with The Norman Mailer Writers Colony, will sponsor annual awards for high school and college writing.