Sunday, February 26, 2006

Some interesting thoughts on literacy and writing

Another great post from Doug at Borderland. Doug's post should be read in its entirety but I have just lifted a quote to give you the flavour. He is talking about an acitivty he did with his grade four students in looking at an article on civil rights. In his post he quotes Neil Postman of Teaching as a Subversive Activity. This quote however is from Postman's The End of Education. This what Doug has to say:
“I thought about how useful these kinds of tasks are for keeping kids busy. Now that they know how to read well enough to look things up, reading can become an end in itself. I could do this continually if I wanted to. What a terrific club literacy is for subjugating and controlling people in school, I thought. It keeps them docile, and allows me to force them look for meanings that I have determined ahead of time. They learn compliance and accountability. Literacy is a useful tool for creating a passive public. Neil Postman said that what is public about school is not that we serve the public, but that we create a public through schooling.”

Such a lot to think about, and then on top of that is this post from Konrad. He shares his interesting thoughts about classroom writing. He is talking about his students who have read and discussed a novel (Animal Farm) and how they might respond to it:
“I want them to see their writing as an attempt to capture the current state of their engagement with ideas not the final pronouncement on the assigned topic. Writing and learning itself are not about coming to immutable conclusions. They are about negotiation, about branching off into other avenues, about exploring possibilities.”
And instead of a text response essay on the novel he gives them this challenge:

“I encourage you to blog about your thoughts, brainstorming ideas, and your views on the novel in general. You will be given plenty of time in class to record your thoughts on your blog. This will help you arrive at topics that you as a reader find especially interesting. It will also give me an opportunity to read your comments and respond to them. Think of blogging about the novel as thinking out loud. If I can hear your ideas, I can join the conversation. In other words, by writing about the novel from your own point of view, you can gradually develop your own “map” of the novel, find your own way into this text. Once that’s done, your essay will practically write itself.”


  1. Awesome.

    I agree. It's the process I try to follow in my own writing.

  2. Good to see how innovative the teachers are down south. You remind me of my classteachers Anit Mathews, she was so thorugh and passionate about teaching. I recently got back in touch with her, maybe you will come across her, she is the coordinator of a Adult Education program for English language and is based in Melbourne.

    She taught many years at my school in Punjab, India before moving downunder.

    Anyways, I came here by searching for "Creative Writing" and got some good reflections (tips) from a educationists prespective.

    Do drop by at my blog

    bye for now