National Writing Project

NCTE's 'Writing in the 21st Century' Calls for New Composing Agenda

Date: April 23, 2009

Summary: With new modes of composing comes a new responsibility to develop models of teaching and learning that respond to these 21st century literacies, argues this latest NCTE report, which is part of a series of reports from NCTE calling for support for 21st century writing instruction.


Writing in the 21st Century (PDF), authored by Kathleen Blake Yancey and published by NCTE, calls for increased understanding of and support for the various forms of composing that we and our students engage in today.

Yancey, past president of NCTE, former director of the UNC Charlotte Writing Project, and Florida State University faculty member, has been a longtime advocate for greater attention to digital writing in the English language arts curriculum.

Yancey first provides a historical perspective on writing and the teaching of writing, then moves on to composing with digital technologies. She maintains we have entered a new age of literacy development, one that focuses on networking practices and social participation.

With this in mind, Yancey recommends that literacy educators

  • articulate the new models of composing developing right in front of our eyes
  • design a new model of a writing curriculum for K–graduate school
  • create new models for teaching.

Excerpt from Writing in the 21st Century

We can and should respond to these new composing and new sites of composings with new energy and a new composing agenda. Let me also suggest that an historical perspective like the one I've sketched out here helps us understand an increasingly important role for writing: to foster a new kind of citizenship, one that has roots in an earlier time but that is being reimagined today.

Copyright © 2009 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Posted with permission.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. 2009, February. Writing in the 21st Century. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

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