Monday, September 27, 2010

Topic: Writing Across the Curriculum and Writing in Real Situations

Purpose of this blog: Review of interesting articles and ideas in past English education journals, K-12.

10-second review: Writing across the curriculum is important, not to help English teachers, but to help children control the language they use in different subjects. Real writing situations are important for the same reason.

Title: “The David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching English—1983. Statement by Walter Loban in Presenting the Award to Margaret Donaldson for Her book, Children’s Minds.” Research in the Teaching of English (February 1984), 82-83.

Quote: Walter Loban: “There are two important movements whose time has come in education. The first of these is language across the curriculum, not to help English teachers but because thought must be organized into words, because pupils gain dominion over concepts and ideas in any subject by talking and writing about those ideas; no multiple-choice or short answer workbook will accomplish such a desirable outcome.

The second important movement is based on the idea that growth in language power and effectiveness derives mainly from the dynamics of using language in real situations, not from studying about language. Granted, instruction about language is necessary, but when knowledge about language becomes an end in itself rather than a means to genuine communication, vast amounts of money and effort are wasted. Because universal education is such an enormous task, our schools have unduly stressed what is easier to manage, the more obvious skills and visible aspects of language, assuming that by isolating these bits and pieces, pupils will profit. But this is a dangerous assumption. The path to power of language is to use it, to make it work for us in situations that are real rather than contrived. It is to this second important movement whose time has come that Children’s Minds contributes so significantly.”

Comment: A lot of common sense in what Loban says. Writing across the curriculum and writing for real situations give students a clear purpose for writing. RayS.

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