[The following article was published in the Summer 2014 issue of the Penn Urban Ed Journal]
And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.
– Audre Lorde (1978)
My high school students are creators discovering how to express their ideas and emotions in multiple, complex ways. I teach students who write their lives through words on pages as they fill journal after journal. There are others who constantly write and create in the form of tweets, photos, videos, status updates, and texts that tell their stories and define their worlds. And finally, there are those who do not regularly express themselves but spend much of their time observing and developing their own private ideas.
It is my hope that, during their time with me, students will master multiple forms of communication and thought. Developing the skills necessary to be critical media consumers; close, analytical readers; and insightful creators is not easy work.
If I were to force my students to be writers and creators in only traditional academic forms I would suppress their creativity, talent, and emotion. Academic writing is not intrinsically engaging or comfortable for them. While I do want them to become experts in academic discourse, I also want them embark on processes of inquiry that allow them to discover new ideas about themselves and their world.
Traditional forms of text and communication are eroding and being replaced by new, hybrid forms. These new forms have changed research and allow students to individualize content and express themselves in multiple ways while inventing new forms. My goal is for students to develop unique, individual voices and discover multiple avenues for communicating their ideas as they present their work to public audiences using multiple modalities.
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