Writing: Reluctant Writers

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

Physical factors: sensory, motor

For adults, it is easy to forget that writing is a physical process. Several younger pupils in the study had difficulty containing their work on a single sheet of paper because their diagrams and writing tended to be too large. It was felt that this would improve over time as these pupils refined their fine-motor control and spatial awareness. One teacher noted;

'It made me realise how impediments such as poor fine-motor skills and spelling impact on writing.'

This comment seems to suggest that teachers, who are themselves experienced writers, may take for granted the physical and orthographic skills required of young children. To be able to see the process of writing from the perspective of the child is likely to be an important pre-requisite for teachers of writing. The fact that the project has brought about this realisation would suggest that positioning teachers in roles as participant-researchers enables them to perceive learning processes differently and thereby encourages a more insightful view of pupils' difficulties.

Pupils who find the physical process a struggle, either because they lack the fine-motor control to create well presented work, or because they find extended writing by hand a physically painful process, may become reluctant to write. Both reasons can have an influence over how the child feels about writing and how they see themselves as a writer. The pupil's feelings about the presentation of their writing could be influenced by feedback from home or the teacher. This might suggest, in some instances, a convergence of physical factors and cultural ecology or pedagogic factors, which then feed into the pupil developing 'Affective Resistor' tendencies.