CFP: NCTE 2015

Responsibility, Creativity, and the Arts of Language

Proposals will be due by 11:59 p.m. PST, on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.

NCTE will meet November 19-22, 2015 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Doug HesseIt seems quaint to invoke “the language arts.” After all, science, not art, is ascendant these days, and the educational world spins around STEM. As graduates vie for jobs, people want “practical” skills. Clearly, we must respond responsibly to our students’ and society’s needs.

But we should promote school and career skills as but one aspect of literacy. We should value not only workers but also citizens, not only students passing tests but also social beings making connections, not only information processors but also idea creators. We read to extract—but also to evaluate and imagine. We compose to report—but also to remember and reflect, to influence and entertain, to console and inspire. Fully literate lives need creativity as well as competency.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein contended, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” At a cultural moment when it’s tempting to make the world defensively smaller, we should yet advocate the ample arts of language. As professional makers of readers and writers, NCTE members advance literate life at its richest.

Related Information
The Online Program Proposal Submission System will be available following the 2014 NCTE Annual Convention.

Proposals will be due by 11:59 p.m. PST, on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.

What arts of language?

Reading and writing are not only obliged activities (things we must do) but also self-sponsored ones (things we might choose). Consider reading textbooks for information versus novels for ideas; manuals versus social media; reports versus editorials versus photo essays. Writing is similarly dappled. Consider differences between writing applications and tweets; between creating a family history and drafting a set of instructions; between literary analyses, petitions, PowerPoints, and infographics.

How might we best teach and promote the many language arts? What are our best goals, practices, and research?

How can we advance our expertise?

There’s no shortage of critiques of teaching. Unfortunately, many of them lack teacher research and wisdom. “Common sense” is sometimes grounded in assumptions that diminish complex students and situations, sometimes motivated more by political interest than by educational expertise.

We are the professionals in the arts of language. NCTE members know literacy development, from acquisition to lifelong enhancement. We sponsor curricular and pedagogical knowledge. We should be the first and best source for professional development and assessment. Expertise unacknowledged is expertise squandered.

What ideas—in departments, schools, systems, or states—might our best advocates share? How can we teach policymakers and pundits what we know and why it matters?

How might we teach beyond classrooms?

Obviously, classrooms remain our most vital teaching sites. Too, there’s the co-curriculum: student publications, theatre programs, writing centers, maker spaces, events, and celebrations.

But when people learn throughout life, we neglect other opportunities at our peril. Think of community centers, galleries, and libraries, sites digital as well as physical. Teaching beyond classrooms serves not only publics but also us. After all, stakeholders who know us—who learn from and with us—better trust our expertise.

How can we make our knowledge visible and valued in places beyond schools and colleges? What can we learn from those already doing this?

What makes healthy teachers?

The threat of teacher burnout has never been higher. We’re pressured by budget constraints and accountability measures. Students from complex family, economic, language, and cultural backgrounds complicate tidy generalizations. College instructors are increasingly part-time and contingent, piecing together minimal livelihoods at multiple campuses.

How, then, do we sustain ourselves—and one another? What practices renew and give us energy?

The Call

One answer, of course, is to come together in Minneapolis, making the land of 10,000 lakes the land of ten times as many ideas. I invite proposals that address these questions or share any practices and insights—from traditional and practical to innovative and speculative—that help language arts teachers, pre-K through grad school, approach teaching and learning more expertly, confidently, even joyfully.

Doug Hesse
2015 Program Chair

From NCTE’s website

See the entire CFP here.

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