Tale of the Tape: Donald Graves and the Revolution in Children’s Writing
Thomas Newkirk, professor of English, recently delivered the College’s Lindberg Lecture, given annually by the winner of the Lindberg Award for outstanding teacher-scholar. The video of that lecture is now available here.
Newkirk focused on the seminal work of Donald Graves, UNH professor emeritus of early childhood education and former director of the UNH Writing Laboratory who passed away in 2010. Graves was a pioneer in literacy education and changed the way writing is taught across the United States and the English-speaking world. In 1983, Graves published Writing: Teachers & Children at Work, based on a two-year study of elementary school children in Atkinson, NH. His research revealed writing as a natural human need for self-expression and a way to develop and hone critical thinking skills. UNH recently has uncovered videotapes that Graves made during the Atkinson study. Newkirk shows clips from the tapes to illuminate the lasting contributions of Graves’s work.
Newkirk credits Graves as a major influence in the development of his own scholarship, which focuses on literacy, composition, and the teaching of writing. Newkirk has authored four books, including Holding on to Good Ideas in a Time of Bad Ones: Six Literacy Principles Worth Fighting For, and coauthored, edited, or coedited 11 books, most recently The Essential Don Murray: Lessons from America’s Greatest Writing Teacher, with colleague Lisa Miller, associate professor of English. Newkirk has also developed major program initiatives intended to advance literacy and literacy pedagogy: he designed the UNH Ph.D. program in composition, and developed and administers three innovative programs, The New Hampshire Literacy Institutes, The Writer’s Academy, and the Learning Through Teaching Program. An equally committed and accomplished teacher, Newkirk’s students consistently and highly praise him for his enthusiasm, knowledge, expertly led class discussions, and respectfulness. For his outstanding work as both a scholar and a teacher, Professor Newkirk has been recognized with the Lindberg Award, the highest award of the College of Liberal Arts.
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