All Writing to Learn classes are taught using the method conceived in the 1930s by Mrs. Anna Ingham, a Canadian primary teacher. Her nephew, Dr. James B. Webster, a professor of African history, built on her method and employed it with his history students at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, where he became popular due to his ability to effectively teach writing to university students. In the 1990s, Andrew Pudewa, an American teacher, attended one of Dr. Webster’s writing workshops, where he was captivated by the effective and sensible method. After returning to the workshop annually for several years, Mr. Pudewa received Dr. Webster’s permission to teach the method in the United States. Mr. Pudewa is now the Director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, and the writing method is known as IEW.
Using the IEW method, students learn to write in a process very similar to that used for learning to play a musical instrument. In music, the tools are technique and music theory. Even innovative jazz musicians create their music using these same tools. We wouldn’t dream of saying to a new piano student, “Think of how a spring day would sound. Now play it.” Even so, many writing courses use a similar approach to “teach” students to write!
Instead of focusing on creativity, the IEW method equips students with writing tools of structure and style. The method approaches writing as a discipline, with particular skills to be learned, practiced, and mastered. As a result, both “reluctant writers” and “natural writers” are able to grow in their abilities. Even students who have previously hated writing have come to enjoy it after learning the IEW method!