Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The "Back Again Gang"

The “Back Again” Gang: Using the Revision Process to Develop “A Voice of One’s Own”

“...from here to there  and  back again.”

The idea of a return, a reuse, remix, repurposing of older work or others’ work, is of the essence of writing. 

British poster from World War II, reproduced in the Wikipedia article on Recycling:
British poster from World War II
If it is true in the most basic sense that “I write to find out what I think,” it is only in at least revisiting and rereading, that one understands what that thinking really is. The repetition, re-doing, is the hardest thing for children to learn. They are so eager for the new thing that they always want to be told by the authorities that they are DONE, that they can get whatever was the proffered reward for their compliance with the instructions that got them to put the words down on paper, or up in the cloud, and can MOVE ON. 

But no...they may not.

It is in that duplicative, over-again phase of the self-examination that the first glimmers of a productive interior multilogue begin to emerge, and it is in teaching the “joy of revision” (how’s that for a contradiction in terms!) that students can begin to appreciate the power of their own clarity, forged by a self-discovery process that depends on accepting their own recursive thought processes, and gradually learning how to incorporate the suggestions of others into that process, without surrendering their sense of ownership about the ultimate version, and truly begin to sense what it feels like to have “a voice of one’s own.”

I think it is crucial as we embrace, propagate, and demonstrate the multifarious and wonderful ways we can now create and then repurpose communicative content, amongst ourselves as a community of teachers, and with our students as a community of learners, that we remember how much of what we are doing is not all that different from what my third and fourth graders did in Writer's Workshop over twenty years ago or what I did with the moveable platen press the Westland School teachers went out and got for Group 4 at Westland School over sixty years ago, so that we could learn about printing.