Whose writing is it anyway?

By Teresa Cremin, Professor of Literacy in Education, The Open University 

Young people can find both pleasure and purpose in writing, we all can. Whether the young will find such in schooled writing depends on whether we can redress the currently imbalanced emphasis on literacy skills at the expense of creativity and purpose. It also depends on whether we as educators see ourselves primarily as teachers of writing or as teachers who seek to enable the development of young writers.  Whose writing is it anyway? Continue reading “Whose writing is it anyway?”

What is ‘subject knowledge for writing’?

By Professor Debra Myhill, Director of the Centre for Research in Writing, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean, The University of Exeter

Both the professional standards for teachers and research on teacher effectiveness emphasise the importance of teacher subject knowledge.  Lee Shulman, perhaps the seminal contributor to thinking about subject knowledge, distinguished between subject knowledge (the academic content knowledge), pedagogical knowledge (the general knowledge of how to teach) and pedagogical content knowledge (the specific knowledge of how to teach your subject).  Curriculum subjects such as History, Maths and Science have very evident subject knowledge, but English or Literacy is less clear-cut.  In secondary schools, knowledge of literature is a very clear body of subject knowledge and one which has its own metalanguage – simile, metaphor, stanza, personification etc.  In primary schools, teachers need to know about good books written for children and in recent years, primary teachers are also expected to have strong pedagogical subject knowledge for teaching reading based on government mandates about phonics.

But what is subject knowledge for writing? Continue reading “What is ‘subject knowledge for writing’?”

Free Writing

By Tricia Nash – Research Consultant, Open University and Honorary Research Fellow, The University of Exeter

What a fascinating round of classroom observations the project researchers completed before half term. These observations were a few weeks after the teachers’ Arvon residential in the Easter holidays, but before the start of the co-mentoring of teachers and writers in the new summer term. All five teachers observed by myself were using ideas ‘magpied’ from the Arvon course and the tutors there. Continue reading “Free Writing”


By Anthony Wilson, Senior Lecturer, University of Exeter

One of the joys of working on the Teachers as Writers project is that I get to steal. As a researcher I share and exchange ideas about writing theory and pedagogy, all the while learning from my colleagues how to plan and conduct research in a way that is transparent and robust. I have visited hundreds of classrooms during my career as a teacher educator, but I still think of myself as the person in the room next door, on the lookout for new ways of doing things. This is no less true of writing, both the teaching and practice of it. Even though I have tutored at Arvon courses myself it was a privilege to observe tutors’ practice from the other side of the fence as it were, noticing resonances as well as differences, storing their exercises away for future use. To quote from Keats, ‘my ear is open like a greedy shark’. Continue reading “Stealing”

What can writers bring into the classroom?

By Ian Eyres, Senior Lecturer, The Open University

What can we learn about writing from writers? Whether by ‘writing’ we mean written text (as in ‘the writing of Charles Dickens’), or the act or activity of doing writing (as in ‘the writing of David Copperfield’), writing is linked to learning: students can read, appraise and enjoy the former, but also strive to emulate the latter. Continue reading “What can writers bring into the classroom?”