Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about writing across the disciplines. I am in school as an education major, specifically for middle level math and science. My work in the Writing Lab has caused me to begin to think about how I can best implement writing into my future middle school math and science classes. I think that it is important to integrate writing into all of the disciplines whether at the middle school or college level. However, if I am to be an adamant supporter of writing across the curriculum, I need to be able to answer the question, “Why is it important that students are given the opportunity to write across disciplines?”
This is a question that I have never really fully considered. For myself, learning to write at a young age and in a variety of school subjects helped me to become a better, more effective writer. I become a better writer the more I write. Is this the only reason to implement writing across the disciplines? Is the purpose of writing across the curriculum to make bad writers better by giving them more practice? While doing research on this topic, I encountered an article entitled, “Writing to Learn: Writing Across the Disciplines.” According to Herrington, while writing across the curriculum is a practical and beneficial way to improve surface features of a written product, there is a much better reason to implement writing throughout the disciplines (279).
Instead of writing simply to improve writing, Herrington takes the “writing to learn” approach. This approach implies that students have a voice. Students can contribute their thoughts and ideas to any discipline. It is then through the process of writing that students are given the opportunity to discover and communicate what they have to say. This approach to writing “relates the process of writing to the process of learning a given subject matter” (Herrington 279). Educators can seek to relate these two processes by creating writing assignments that “are linked to course objectives and by responding to student writing in ways that stress its value as a process of discovery” (Herrington 280). Writing can be implemented into school curricula in order to help students effectively meet specific course objectives. This “writing to learn” approach values the process of writing and sees it as beneficial to overall student learning. In order to write about a topic, a student must first understand what they are seeking to write about. Well designed writing assignments give students the opportunity to think about and apply the material that they are learning.
As a peer tutor, student writer, and a future teacher, this information is exciting. Writing is a way for me and the students I work with to learn how to effectively communicate our ideas in order to share them with others and better understand academic material, no matter the subject. Learning to become a better writer is important, but it also has a greater purpose. As one becomes a better writer, they learn to think and communicate more effectively. For me, this makes learning the mechanics of grammar and research paper writing a lot more exciting. It also gives me a conversation to implement with the student writers I work with in order to encourage them in their writing journey.
Herrington, Anne J. “Writing to Learn: Writing Across the Disciplines.” College English 43:4 (1981): 379-387. Web. 24 February 2013.