Skills for Citizenship? Writing Instruction and Civic Dispositions in Aotearoa New Zealand

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: This article offers an overview of a first-year writing course in Aotearoa New Zealand, Tū Kupu: Writing and Inquiry, which forms part of a core Bachelor of Arts (BA) curriculum with “citizenship” as a key theme. I situate the course in the context of the tertiary sector in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the social and political contexts for teaching here, analysing how these contexts deeply inform the sense of “the civic” that we engage in writing instruction. In particular, I account for neoliberal trends in higher education and the complexities of citizenship, including the multiple and sometimes competing kinds of belonging, participation, and publics we invoke when we name citizenship as a teaching focus, and the role of writing in their enactment. My broadest claim is that this set of complexities is a useful one to illuminate the multifaceted work of writing instruction in this country. In addition, in three sections, this article works through some of the institutional and policy demands on writing instruction, the competing accounts of citizenship that we might engage, and how our assignments, text choices, and workshop pedagogy model civic engagement and frame writing in terms of inquiry and collectivity, amid shifting frames and hierarchies of belonging, and questions about the role of the university.
Across the Disciplines, 2019, (Special Issue: From the Margins to the Centre: Writing Across the Curriculum in Australia and New Zealand), 16 (3), pp. 37 - 49