Let’s face it… writing has always trailed behind reading in the educational debate unless needed as a case of despair as ‘standards’ drop. Last year we had the National Year of Reading and this year many schools seem to be identifying writing as an urgent issue to address.
But what really is this ‘issue’ that so many teachers are being pressured to address? The issue ‘of’ writing from many teacher’s point of view is that writing assessment marks are lower in most cases than Maths and Science. Could this be to do with the fact that maths and science follow rules or rarely deviate from a universally agreed answer? Writing differs because it is extremely difficult to ‘teach to the test’ because writers create and shape text from experience of reading and meaning making that they engage with not only in the classroom, but in the real world. I hear horror stories of ‘quick-fix’ strategies to improving ‘attainment’ that fundamentally ignores writers own experiences, creativity and the need to develop writing as a craft not as a generic practice. All the strategies seem to go against the landmark work of Donald Graves, for example, and the ongoing research from colleagues at UKLA. I find this a huge concern.
I don’t feel that writing is an issue. But I do feel there are immense issues with the teaching of writing that need addressing as a matter of urgency. As educators we must move away from prescriptive, one size fits all approaches to writing pedagogy and allow children to develop a love of writing through the manipulation of language to present their own texts… with their own voice – not a standardised one.