Friday, June 06, 2003

Writing Online/Teaching Writing Online

There's a new query on the Writing Program Administrator's e-mail list seeking research on whether there are benefits to having writing teachers actually being active writers. Anecdotal evidence says yes, but the query seeks research.

I don't know if there's research or what it will show, but I do know that I couldn't teach writing if I didn't write. So much of how I teach, my strengths and obvious weaknesses as a teacher, comes from what I know of writing from having written. Especially as I teach online. I wouldn't teach students about blogging and some of the ways to do it, without doing it myself. I wouldn't teach about writing with a word processor if I didn't do so much of the writing I do with a word processor.

I think to teach writing, for me to do it anyway, requires some understanding of what a writer might go through when trying to write. And now-a-days, that means understanding that "going through" with digital writing tools and writing conventions.

Of course, the thing to remember is that how I write and how I approach using these kinds of writing technologies won't always carry over to what my students might do or need to do. So just writing isn't enough. It helps to know how other people write, what alternative writing habits and processes work. It helps to know a bit about how students learn, about writing theory and practice, and about the technology writers use, its limits and possibilities.

So being a writing teacher who writes isn't everything, but for me, it's essential.