Ann-Marie's Blog

Blog for January 17, 2012 - Yagelski's "Literacy in our Lives"

Blog for January 24, 2012 - HALR Chap. 3 "Who Are Adolescents Today?"

Blog for January 31, 2012 - HALR Chap. 4 Contexts for Adolescent Literacy

Blog for February 7, 2012 - HALR Chap. 11 "Digital Literacies"

Blog for February 14, 2012: HALR Chapters 18 and 19 Literacy and the Virtual World and Media Literacy and Adolescents

Blog for February 21, 2012: "Neglected R"

Blog for March 6, 2012: HALR Chap. 17 "The Literacy Demand of Entering the University

Blog for March 13, 2012: HALR Chapters 9 and 10

Blog for March 20, 2012 - Literary Theories Advanced in Elective Text

Blog for March 27, 2012: HALR Chap. 7 "Fostering Engaged Academic Literacy"

Blog April 12, 2012: Blau's "Literacy as a Form of Courage"

Response to Paula Stacey's Let's Stop Teaching Writing

Ms. Stacey,

Your article is an intriguing piece, yet borders on blasphemy. Stop teaching writing in schools?! Pretty bold, but I completely understand and almost, just almost, share your view. I can see your point on the tediousness of teaching writing in such an orderly and prescriptive manner. Yes, doing so does add a bit of mundaneness and pressure to the process. One has to ensure there is a hook, thesis statement, three reasons to defend for each body, and a conclusion that summarizes what was already written. In the middle of this, one has to do some thinking, get one’s point across without being too verbose or conversely, be sure to have enough evidence to support the argument. No pressure, right? I do see it as being a bit restrictive as well. Here I am writing this wonderful piece, but I am bound by these five paragraphs that limits my being able to fully develop my thoughts and points. I will now have to, perhaps, curtail my writing because I cannot go outside of that boundary.

On the other hand, I do believe there should be a structure to writing and a prescriptive method that all in education can agree on to prevent a vast array of unstructured, hodgepodge of writing from circulating. On what basis will teachers know how to grade or evaluate a written piece if there’s no template from which they can follow? In a sense, it would all become subjective. One teacher will say, “This is a good piece. I like the way you just let loose in your writing and just flowed.” or another may say of the same piece, “I enjoyed your thoughts, but you needed to be organized in your writing”. Who is correct? Essentially both are because there’s no basis for either to evaluate the writing. The students then must be considered. How will they know what is expected when writing an essay if they aren’t given a basis or formula on which to follow for their writing?

I do like your idea as well regarding questioning. I do greatly believe that questioning, especially if asked based on the different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, can yield great results in student thinking, which is primarily what teachers look for or should look for. There’s nothing like seeing those faces squirm, eyes scrunch and the proverbial smoke coming out of the ears, as they think and fight for an answer to a thought-provoking question. Even more delightfully, is getting the responses in writing as they unleash all their thoughts on paper. This process does give them more freedom without the added pressure of a prescriptive writing process.

Overall, I do understand your point and agree with you to a certain degree. Yes, let our students have the freedom of actually enjoying the “messy process that is thinking” and write at will and unrestrictedly what they may. However, in the academic arena there has to be an organized way on which we can base our evaluations. Is there room for both, the hodgepodge and structured? Absolutely! However, there is a time and place for everything. So no, we should not stop teaching writing in schools.