Can writing be taught?

A banal question: Can writing be taught?

This seems to be a question about the nature of writing, asking us to formulate an answer in a “writing is such and such and thus can (or cannot) be taught” manner. However, it is also closely related to how we define teaching. It is obvious that each of these concepts is so complex. So addressing the question requires one to define the two concepts involved: writing and teaching. But again, answering the question is so daunting due to the fact that defining these terms involves two huge disciplines: composition and education.

So, to my joy as well as agony, the answer always comes down to local situations. In other words, I can answer the question only here and now, looking my students in their eyes, exploring their sociocultural backgrounds, and collaborating with them moment by moment, with a specific pedagogical goal in mind. What is amazing is that the will to teaching, and learning to teach, plays a crucial role in answering this seemingly pure intellectual question. Here comes the artistic, performative dimension of teaching. The answer lies in authentic performances in situ rather than in theoretical conceptualizations a priori.


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