Afterword to "Writer Identity and the Teaching and Learning of Writing"

Cremin, Teresa and Locke, Terry (2016). Afterword to "Writer Identity and the Teaching and Learning of Writing". In: Cremin, Teresa and Locke, Terry eds. Writer Identity and the Teaching and Learning of Writing. London and New York: Routledge.



As editors of this volume, we sought a range of viewpoints, including examples of new empirical research, to illuminate the nature of writer identity and its relationship to the teaching of writing. In reflecting on the contributions published here, we draw a number of implications which, taken collectively, constitute a kind of call for action - for teacher education and research.

It is clear that all of us, who are members of literate societies, have histories as writers which contribute to the process whereby we construct personal narratives about what it means to write and be a writer. Some of these narratives are stories of struggle, classroom alienation, indifferent response and failure. Others are stories of writing as a portal to self-realisation, empowerment and mastery in relation to various domains of learning. There is, of course, a wealth of hard and anecdotal evidence linking the classroom experiences of students, the behaviour and practices of teachers, and the narratives of writing identity that form and reform in our students as they travel through the compulsory school sector and into adulthood – where some of them decide to become teachers.

These personal narratives matter for a range of reasons. They constitute the baggage that teachers take into their pre-service education, and will for good or ill impact on their formation as teachers of writing. They also matter because they will shape the predispositions of all adults, who have been subject to the formal education system, in respect of writing as an activity (personal or professional) and a potential dimension of their identity. These predispositions will inevitably have a role in determining the nature of the literacy practices in many homes, and in part may determine the relationship between these and local school practices.

Let us be clear that while all of us have writing identities of one sort or another, based on our personal narratives and our subscribed-to discourses or stories about what it means to be a writer that are implicit in our beliefs and practices, positioning ourselves as writers in our relationships with others, especially in our work settings, is a different matter – an assertion of a different order. We might call this our performed or enacted writing identity, it involves the subtle or overt claiming of a dimension of self that asserts that writing is a crucial element of who we are (ontology) and how we come to know (epistemology). It is also political, because it signifies that being a writer, and articulating my understandings as a writer, are a warrant for my claiming that what I say is valid and worthy of note.

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