Fri, 20 Oct 2000 18:36:54 EDT
I have been watching writing for about 30 years at SVS and have noticed
several things that are perhaps related (I tend to think so).
(1) Writing in the computer age is what everyone does shortly after talking
and sometimes before learning to read. So, if perhaps writing was "optional"
in the '80's, that has changed: for most kids it is very important.
(2) The ability to express oneself articulately in writing is related more to
the things you mention, like clarity of thought, and also self-confidence,
than it is to being taught technique.
(3) Kids who read a lot and speak a lot can usually write pretty well, and
with few grammatical issues. Spelling? Oh, well . . . spell checkers get
some of it and don't get the rest.
(4) Some kids are natural good spellers. They can't help it. It doesn't
seem to be learnable as a discrete skill, but maybe it is eventually
learnable in certain circumstances IF the motivation is high enough.
(5) The incidence and level of creative writing -- be it essays, fiction,
poetry, whatever -- among kids who are free is very much higher than I ever
would have guessed. Since I (also an English major in college) wrote
constantly because I was forced to for all of my college years, not to
mention needing to write quite a bit during my high school years, this was a
BIG surprise to me.
(6) Coincidentally (or not) the ability to get the meaning from what is
usually considered difficult material is also very high among free kids. For
instance, the first time I opened Shakespeare with kids I was blown away.
They understood it all without a lot of explication. I cannot say the same
for myself as a kid, maybe because I was secure in the idea that I couldn't
(7) No one needs to comment on another's writing unless asked. Just doing it
makes the writer better and better and better.
I could go on, but I won't.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Sat Oct 21 2000 - 08:40:11 EDT