“…in the meantime, we are going to concentrate on writing itself, on how to become a better writer, because, for one thing, becoming a better writer is going to help you become a better reader, and that is the real payoff.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird; Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Several years ago, while co-teaching a high school humanities class, I was also doing graduate research on the relationship of writing, both formal and informal, and its impact for how a student evolved in his or her ability to read and think critically. It was research I had been interested in since reading William Zinsser’s book, Writing to Learn, and provided a base for my own core teaching and writing beliefs. My thoughts on the teaching of writing continue to evolve given the reading and writing options available today including AI options like ChatGPT, Grammarly, and Rytr; but no matter what new technologies impact the writing landscape, there are two claims on writing that Zinsser made that should always remain at the forefront for the value of writing.
Zinsser’s first claim was “Writing and thinking and learning were(are) the same process.” Relative to this notion, he went on to note “writing across the curriculum isn’t just a method of getting students to write who were afraid of writing. It’s also a method of getting students to learn who are afraid of learning.” His second claim was, “ Writing is thinking on paper. Anyone who thinks clearly should be able to write clearly…” So, what about writing in the 21st Century world that offers a range of technology potentially marginalizing or even eliminating paper in many cases?