Writing: Reluctant Writers

Dr Paul Gardner | View as single page | Comment/Feedback

Pedagogic factors

This set of factors covers methods of teaching, teacher attitudes to writing and thinking about children as writers. One teacher, with wide experience of schools over many years, stated that children taught by the method of 'emergent writing' were generally more motivated to write than children in classrooms where secretarial or transcription skills are privileged over compositional ones, thereby leaving children with the view that writing is primarily concerned with the skills of handwriting, spelling and punctuation. Whilst these are important skills that need to be taught, compositional skills are the true measure of a writer's ability to write. However, where teaching causes a child to internalize the view that the quality of transcription is the indicator of good writing, a skill the child may not have fully mastered, it may lead to the child developing a self-view as a poor writer.

A further pedagogic factor identified by the co-researcher teacher as possibly affecting children as writers is the teaching of writing through decontextualised exercises, with an emphasis on syntactic accuracy.

For example the National Literacy Strategy (DfEE 1998), which dominated pedagogy in England for a decade from 1998, encouraged the sub-division of literacy lessons into word, sentence and text level work. This approach runs the risk of leading to fragmented teaching. It may also hinder opportunities to engage pupils with whole texts, either as readers or writers. The data indicated that that an over emphasis on grammar, punctuation, and spelling or inappropriate teaching of grammar de-motivates some children in terms of their creative writing because they become overly conscious of grammatical correctness rather than expressing their thinking. The findings suggest that effective teaching of creative writing develops pupils' self confidence as writers by engaging both their emotions and intellect.