Exploring writing institutes for teachers in South Africa
This paper describes an exploratory study based on anecdotal evidence, investigating the need for and feasibility of establishing a formal Writing Institute Program in South Africa. These institutes are modeled on the National Writing Project (NWP) Invitational Summer Institutes, held at 200 sites in the United States (US), Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico during the June-August summer break. Several thousand teachers in the US participate each year in these invitational summer institutes, which are based on the NWP’s model of teachers teaching teachers. The US Embassy’s Regional English Language Office in South Africa collaborated with directors of writing projects in the United States, and South Africans were invited to attend summer institutes to explore the possibilities of duplicating the model in South Africa. Since 2008, institutes have been held in South Africa in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Limpopo, Pretoria and Durban. This paper is a report on the observed impact of the institutes at these sites, lessons learned about teacher training centres as viable homes for these sites and suggestions for future writing institutes in South Africa. Evidence is presented in the form of vignettes, which explore perceptions on the positive impact of writing institutes in South Africa.
Keywords: Writing institutes; National Writing Project; In-service teacher training.