OK, so I do this really tricky thing. At least, some of my students have called it tricky. After writers do their first timed writing practice or freewriting, I say, “Now we’ll all read aloud what we wrote.” There’s sound pedagogical rationale for this practice. In Peter Elbow and Pat Belanoff’s classic booklet Sharing and Responding, the first kind of response they describe is “Sharing: No Response.” No matter what class it is, after I say we’ll read our writing aloud, I can hear the collective sucking in of breath: “Oh, no. Anything but that!”
But they read. Those who have phobias about public speaking, those who are not sure they want to be that honest, those who worry their language is wrong or will be misunderstood. They read. They stand behind their words. That takes guts. And I admire them.