Friday, January 05, 2007

Donald Murray Dies at 82

News has arrived this week of Donald Murray's death. Here's the notice from the NCTE Inbox:
Educator, Columnist Donald Murray Dies at 82
Journalist, professor, columnist, and Pulitzer-Prize winner Donald Murray died on December 30. Murray's belief in the writing process helped revolutionize the teaching of writing and his columns drew a large following of devoted readers. The Boston Globe , December 31, 2006

Murray started the journalism program at the University of New Hampshire and taught journalism and writing at UNH for nearly 20 years. Read more about Murray's writing and teaching in "The Living Legacy of Donald Murray" in the January 2000 English Journal .

My own teaching life was transformed when Don spent a semester at the University of Wyoming in the early 1980s. I was teaching eighth grade at Laramie Junior High and attended a series of workshops he conducted at the university. He also visited my classroom. From him I came to understood the relationship between my own writing life and the teaching of writing to teenagers. Even now, more than twenty years later, there are things I say in class and things I do as a writer that I can trace directly back to him.


Michael Moore said...

I never met Donald Murray but as a middle school teacher and later high school teacher, his book, A Writer Teaches Writing: A Practical Method of Teaching Composition had a profound effect on my teaching. His description of the writing process in this book is the best I've ever seen anywhere and the one I continue to use. Although, he revised it in a later edition, I still prefer the old green book with the black block letters that I can see from my desk. I find something new everytime I open this book.

Don Zancanella said...

One of the things that influenced me most was how open he was with his own writing--his drafts, his notebooks, his thought-process. Just before I met him, I'd been in the graduate program in creative writing at the University of Denver where it was just the opposite. The novelists and poets who were on faculty were pretty private about their own writing, as though the tools and processes of writing were guild secrets you had to discover for yourself.