Writing is reaching out. It is making a connection with our fellow women and men, with the power to bridge space, time and culture. People who can successfully communicate have capacity to change things, to campaign, and to show their worth and talent. People who cannot express themselves are naturally disenfranchised; they do not have the agency to direct their own lives, communicate their decisions or speak out against personal or professional injustice. Be honest with yourself, beyond the classroom, how do you view people who can’t write? How many employers simply discard applications because of poor writing, regardless of the content? How many of us judge the intelligence of others based on their poor writing, spelling, punctuation or spoken expression? The ability or inability to write has an impact on people’s confidence but also on social hierarchy; people are all too painfully aware of how their poor writing and expression influences others’ impressions of them. Poor literacy leads to a lack of engagement with vital services and ultimately people feel distanced from their communities. In short, adults who can’t write are at risk of being victims who are not full participants in society.
With this book I hope to sweep aside what English teachers think a short story or a political speech might consist of and, instead, hear it direct from the experts. Let’s stop chasing shadows and start learning from the masters.
Sai Murray shares his own philosophy of what constitutes poetry, and explores ways in which young people can begin to write, re-work and edit their own poems.
Alix Robertson explores the moral imperative of great journalism and shares an insight into structure, conventions and the practical world of the press.
Dame Estelle Morris of Yardley shares the wisdom of her many years in politics, with a simple set of principles for great speech making.
Jacob Ross offers his philosophy of story-telling and outlines a range of incredibly helpful practical approaches to form, structure and generating ideas.
Dr Patricia Taylor takes us on a different path with academic essay writing – beyond the world of GCSE paragraphs and timed essays – Taylor sees argument and opinion writing as a critical process for developing complex ideas and contributing to an ongoing academic conversation.
Zodwa Nyoni discusses a range of ways in which writing for the theatre can be brought into the classroom, and how its unique collaborative nature can help to build resilience, maturity and greater human understanding in our students.
Finally, Dr Adam Henze offers his extensive knowledge of extra-curricular writing programmes, drawn from many years of working with young people, teachers and institutions. His advice for educators will, hopefully, kick start the creation of more spaces for writers to thrive in our school communities.
All the resources from the book are available to download for free here.