Mary Pipher believes that writing always changes the world in some way, big or small. She discusses “change writers,” or composers who seek to change the world by inviting people to join a “struggle” (83, 84). I appreciate that Pipher’s premiere example was not a text written by a powerful politician, established activist, or rebel leader. Instead it was an essay written by a young Jewish girl living in the danger of Nazi Germany. When Anne Frank wrote her essay “Give,” she had no power other than the willingness to write about what she believed was unfair, unfortunate, and changeable. To me, the best part of this example is Frank’s call to action: “Give whatever you have to give, you can always give something, even if it is a simple act of kindness” (83). It is not about being rich, powerful, or famous. It is giving, it is action, and it might be writing.
My teaching of writing has been profoundly changed by book titled <em>Freedom Writers Diary.</em> It is a collection of journal writings produced by real high school students and a teacher that encouraged them to tell stories about their poverty, crime-ridden neighborhoods, and low expectations for educational success. As students wrote, they became more active in addressing problems and suggesting change. By writing, they took action in their own education and communities. As a result, other more powerful people noticed and took action by contributing money, time, and opportunities. The story has become famous and has motivated many teachers and students to write for change by telling their stories. I am one of them.
We can do the same. I believe that when we write for change, we indeed give something. It is that bit of us that cares, listens to, and empathizes with others. Writing can be an active resounding of experiences in which you may cast your light on problems that might otherwise fester in the shadows. When we write about literacy and speech communities, let’s be active in writing for change. Let’s write about what we see as unfair, wrong, and changeable. Writing is action. Writing is change!