In the article “The Ecology of Writing” by Marilyn Cooper, she introduces the ecological model of writing because she believes that the pedagogy method of writing that has been taught by many teachers and textbooks, is actually doing writers more harm than good. She states that writers are told to focus too much on the form rather than on the content. Writers are being limited in their creativity and aren’t given the opportunity to enjoy expressing themselves in this craft because of a “structure” that they are told they need to follow. This in turn makes writing something writers don’t enjoy as much because they don’t get to fully use their own voice. There is more to writing than just sharing a piece of information that you found, more to the paragraphs you are told make up the writing piece, more to the “language” in which you are told you need to use. Cooper defines the ecological model of writing as, “…an activity through which a person is continuously engaged with a variety of socially constituted systems” (p. 367). Writing isn’t just an internal mental process. She talks about “solitary writers” and I imagine a writer sitting alone in a dark corner dreadfully writing on this one idea that they are solely allowed to deliberate on…that’s a sad picture. Writers are creative social beings and should be given the opportunity to grow and expand this skill, beginning with stepping out of the box.
Marilyn states that humans are the cause and the result of their environment. This means that writers will best produce their work if they are engaged with other writers and readers in their classroom and community through social activities. I find this interesting because I took a writing course and the professor would have the students make drafts of our stories and then email the draft to everyone in the class or to a group you were assigned to. Everyone got to take some time to read it on their own and when we went to class we would share our ideas, thoughts, constructive criticisms, and how some of us might have possibly related to the reading. This activity allowed us to be open to a broader audience, it allowed us to be open to more ideas that we possibly might not have been able to come up with on our own, and it allowed us to reflect on how we could improve our work based on what we have shared with each other. This brings me to the socially constituted systems Marilyn Cooper suggests instructors and writers alike should follow: ideas, purpose, interpersonal interactions, cultural norms, and textual form (pages 369-370).
Cooper also places a lot of emphasis on the audience you are writing to. They become the writers purpose and motivation (372). My creative writing professor has been telling us to think about the audience…who are the readers you are speaking to? The audience also allows you to find your voice in your writing. What they respond to is that you will give to them. Speaking of finding your voice, ecology of writing goes hand in hand with writing in technology. The ecological model of writing helps prepare writers for the technology of today and the one’s that are yet to come. Writers now have a broader audience that include blogs, micro-blogs, memes, etc. People cannot be instructed to write in one format and expect it to work for every audience. This is the future of writing, that you may know your audience and that you may be able to find your voice within the social community you partake in. Our digital literacy needs to be parallel with the advancement of technology. We cannot stay behind.