The article, “The Writing Revolution,” claims that New Dorp’s emphasis on writing produced “an extraordinary blossoming of student potential across nearly every subject.” Though I don’t doubt that such increased attention to writing across the curriculum is highly impactful, I’d like to question the means by which the article measures this success. Despite looking toward new and innovative ways of engaging students with writing, test results are still given huge importance. The Common Core standards, which have been hotly debated across the country, are applauded and the focus on analytic writing as early as elementary school goes unquestioned. While I think it’s extremely important to teach writing across disciplines, this new design does not need to go hand in hand with increased federal control of teaching standards or reliance on standardized tests as sufficient gauges for academic success.
Even those who resist the focus on analytic writing over creative writing put their resistance in terms I find questionable. The article quotes high-school teacher Kelly Gallagher as claiming that “the secret weapon of our economy is that we foster creativity.” Perhaps I have utopian dreams about the impact of education, but I think the desire to embark on a PhD might require such an attitude, so I’ll keep complaining. The logic that creative writing should be taught because it is good for the economy completely omits the personal impact that education has on the young person. So much of what we’ve been reading is founded upon the assumption that people go to school to make money in a capitalist economy and if we continue to make arguments that don’t question that foundation, then I think we’re allowing for education to be further commodified than it has already become.
What do others think about that? Is there a way to think about our classrooms as spaces where we can question the notion that students are meant to become mere spokes in the wheel of the current system, or is it our job to prepare students for the “real world?”
What does a classroom look like that aims at the whole person instead of the person as future/current worker?
Is this resistance to preparing students for the current economy ultimately performing a disservice, especially at Queens College, where many students don’t come with the same privileges as many of those who attend expensive liberal arts schools?
Also, as a completely unrelated note, I really liked the object-orientated way of thinking about writing in “The Secret to Good Writing: It’s About Objects, Not Ideas.” I would love to hear other thoughts on how that method of thinking could be used in the classroom.