Writing, Writing, Writing

This morning's faculty meeting was devoted to a discussion of writing and how we all might use writing more to deepen thinking in all classes, sharpen our instruction in writing, lower the barriers to engaging in writing faced by many students, and strengthen the culture of writing at Dublin. Writing has long been a strength at Dublin, and our alumni report that they feel well prepared for college writing; in fact, they are frequently go-to people in their dorms for help with papers and source citations. Current and past students have won prizes for writing (last year: Emily Bascom and Lizzy O'Rourke), we have peer tutors in writing, we have a student lit magazine, and a creative writing club. And indeed, students write in all the disciplines. Journaling is an established part of our Math courses. Students write at the beginning of Dance rehearsals to transition, center, stretch their minds. In AP Government, students are blogging about current issues. And yet, there are so many forms of writing and purposes for writing, and writing is so individualized that we are never satisfied that we are doing enough. Alicia Hammond led our discussion this morning; her emphasis was on writing to learn, incorporating small by daily moments for writing in class: reading responses, summaries, major ideas in the discussion. Nicole Sintetos said that her focus on excellent sentences leads her students to recognize and call out great sentences in their readings. Henry Walters pointed out that writing involves an internal conversation for each author: what am I trying to say? have I said it? and that we do not want to replace or silence that conversation with too many external prompts. Paul Siegel pointed out that great writing starts with acute observations, and Earl Schofield  shared an article on writing in the arts. We ended the meeting with a brainstorming session on ways the community can celebrate, encounter, practice, critique writing, coordinating our efforts, and sharing the liberation that comes with "learning to twist the cherry stem into a knot with your tongue" (Walters),  finding the phrase or expression that says what you mean, or discovering in someone else's phrase a vision you have intimated but never quite expressed. As Michelle Knapp asked her students, is there thinking without writing? I left the meeting excited to see what this creative faculty will think up next! And wondering how to express what -14 feels like.