As a teacher of English, it was a regular occurrence to have students ask me WHY we were studying a topic. I'm sure this is not unique to English teachers, but it seems to be strong in the language arts. You know what questions I mean - "Why do I have to write a poem? I'm never going to be a poet." Sometimes I ignored these questions, sometimes I used the answer they knew from home ("Because I said so.") and sometimes I actually tried to answer with an explanation of how language ties into everything we do. None of those responses ever seemed to be satisfactory.
Most of us write every day. It is clearly still important to an information age. Still, many people don't recognize that writing is still integrated into daily life in the 21st century.
At my college, I am directing the writing initiative and I am continually confronted by students and teachers who just don't see writing as being as important as I do. More importantly, they don't see that writing is already integrated into their discipline, and that they need to be conscious of that and make their students conscious of it.
One way to draw attention to the variety of writing we engage in and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft is five months away. The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is working to establish October 20, 2009, as the National Day on Writing.
I actually wish it wasn't coming from a group of English teachers. I'm tired of other teachers expecting that they (and only they) are the ones responsible for teaching writing. I do like that they have chosen my birthday for the celebration.
What I would like to suggest here is that you become a Local Partner for the project. Local partners can be any group, including a family, a few good friends, a club or church group, a class, a school, a workplace group, or an entire city who wants to see their work collected together inside the National Gallery of Writing.
These local groups need a "Curator" who applies for local partner status and agrees to review all work submitted before it is published.
You would be essentially the filter for the Gallery, and would have access to online tools that allow you to "feature" a select number of pieces within their Gallery for a period of time.
NCTE notes some good reasons to start a local group. It is a way to help your group think more deeply about how, why, when, and where they write, and share ideas or information that is important to them. It can evoke pride, or at least a strong bond, as you see what others post to your Local Gallery. It can help you sharpen your own thinking about writing and improve as a writer. It can broaden your awareness of the perceptions and talents of others' discoveries that are often hidden in everyday writing.
I'll write about this again before October, and if you are participating, I would like to hear from you and share your efforts here.