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What Will Middle and High School Writing Instruction Look Like in 20 years?

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What Will Middle and High School Writing Instruction Look Like in 20 years?

Stacy Rosenblum

Philosophies and pedagogy in education are constantly evolving. Academics who study such things refer to the “swinging pendulum” of methodologies through the years. Frequently, we reflect on how far we’ve come, but there’s so much more we have to achieve in education as a nation.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are the latest iteration of our continuously developing national conversation on the best practices for students. The CCSS strives to make standards and goals in K-12 match the demands of current college and career opportunities. To that end, the American classroom is experiencing a shift in the goals of education, particularly in the priorities and purposes of writing instruction.

In 20 years, I predict that student writing will be markedly more goal oriented. Students will write with a purpose in mind, a point to prove, or viewpoint to persuade. Creative writing will go by the wayside (sadly), and will likely be taught as a skill separate and apart from the required English classes. Students will have less experience with Shakespeare, Socrates, and Sophocles -- simply for lack of time, not for lack of respect of the classics.  

The CCSS places much more emphasis on analytical writing, too. I predict that in 20 years, students will be much more familiar with analyzing arguments of authors writing on topics in History and Science, rather than dissecting the allegories in novels such as Lord of the Flies or Animal Farm.

Secondary sources will also gain prominence in secondary English classes. Students will sacrifice long engagements with novelists for quicker investigations of articles and commentaries. Analysis of primary sources, particularly those that serve as the foundation of our nation, such as The Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, or The Gettysburg Address will be a highlight of high school english and history curricula. The authors of the CCSS and the new SAT have promised inclusion of these texts on the new SAT, which assures that teachers will be required to spend ample time teaching analysis of primary sources during middle and high school.

I predict that technology will intersect with writing in new and wonderful ways. It is my hope that speech-to-text software, like that currently available on mobile phones, will be widely applied to schools and classrooms in order to make writing more accessible for students who struggle with language disabilities, physical disabilities or dyslexia.  

I hope that business communications solutions, such as Skype can be applied more widely so students can chat with authors, scientists, politicians, or artists and feel inspired. The future of student writing in American classrooms has incredible potential if balance is achieved between focus on analytical writing and inclusion of technology.

It’s my hope that we can integrate the best of both worlds to effectively serve students in the 21st century.