WNY Young Writers' Studio

February 2013 Newsletter

The Curse of Expertise

Being a part of a writing community requires ALL of us to have an acute awareness of what others need and how we can be of help to them. Learners and writers require different kinds of support at different times. I’ve found that my previous experiences as a writer, a teacher, and a learner enable me to predict how I might help others best.

And sometimes, this is helpful.

For example, I know that hyper-focusing on the use of conventions often hinders idea development early in the writing process. I know that when writers align their work to the things that they are passionate about, the process has meaning for them and the work that they produce tends to be of better quality too. I know a good many tried and true strategies that can help writers develop their craft. I also know how to coach writers to provide quality feedback to one another. Like every teacher, I have a lot knowledge to share. I also know something else: this knowledge makes me less valuable than one might assume.

Ironically, the fact that I know a lot of things and that I have access to many people who know even more could actually interfere with my ability to help learners. This phenomenon is often referred to as the Curse of Expertise (Hinds, 1999). It is grounded in research findings which suggest that experts are often inaccurate in their assessment of what learners know and can do and in their own explanations of how they accomplish certain tasks themselves. When it comes to learning, it appears that novices often learn best from other novices. So over time, I've invested more of my instructional energy in making that happen.

Nurturing the development of shared expertise within our learning community requires individuals to carefully assess and articulate their strengths and needs. This enables others to provide the right kind of support in the right kind of way at just the right time. In this way, sharing our expertise is about much more than kindness. It’s a service.

Studio mentors, writers, and teachers will be exploring this theme during our next session on February 9th. Each Studio fellow will be naming their strengths, sharing their needs, and connecting themselves to those within and beyond Studio who might be able to help them best.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone!

Get Connected!

Follow the Studio Blog and Connect with Us on Facebook and Twitter

Are you online? So are we! Please connect to us in any of these spaces:

The WNY Young Writers' Studio Facebook Group

@WNYYWS on Twitter

The Studio Blog

Please Plan to Join Us on February 9th!

Our next session will be held on February 9th at Union East Elementary School in Cheektowaga. Elementary writers will meet from 9am-noon. Middle and high school writers will meet from 1-4pm. Mentors will meet at 8am and teachers will meet at 8:30am. Please let Angela know if you are unable to come as soon as possible.