Sunday, May 21, 2017

Teaching Writing and Tacit Knowing





Devon at 6.

I. 

The photograph above always reminds me that interests are far more important than any given direction. Devon wrote the first two lines --"Spring is here. I can play"--from dictation and with support.  He was in kindergarten and had turned 6, two months earlier. I can remember that after he finished he thought for a moment and then he drew the triangle-like shape, paying a lot of attention to darkening the edge. I was curious as to what he was creating. Then he wrote his own sentence.  

"This is A BLA hoL." (This is a black hole). 

He asked me to help him make the words correct. I showed him on another piece of paper and he then added the changes, using the red marker. 

Which statement is more interesting to you as a reader? Which statement tells you more about the mind of a child at 6? Which statement prompts you to pose questions?


II. 

I think about these lessons I learned at home with my son when I think of the many ways we attempt to teach writing to children at school.  With the CCSS's narrow stance on writing product, there are a lot of units of study being enacted in schools as if knowing the parts of a report or argument might somehow be what is most essential for being a writer. 

Yet, when I read students' writing--the product that is being developed in many classrooms I most often grow bored. The texts seem so lifeless.  Having something to say is rarely a matter of recipe and more often a matter of curiosity, stance, question, passion, and belief. Knowing what you want to say comes from being wide awake, being uncertain, and having a habit of writing. It is not from studying the parts of an argument or the sections of an expository report.  Yes, these bits of knowledge can help shape a text, but ideas are rarely generated by following steps that have been explicitly stated by someone else. 

The irony here is having something to say often involves not knowing. Here, tacit knowledge is more king than pawn.  I wonder if there is room at school for such matters?

1 comment:

  1. This is wisdom here, Mary Ann. Thanks for this....I think about this very thing so often as a teacher.
    Having something to say is rarely a matter of recipe and more often a matter of curiosity, stance, question, passion, and belief. Knowing what you want to say comes from being wide awake, being uncertain, and having a habit of writing. It is not from studying the parts of an argument or the sections of an expository report. Yes, these bits of knowledge can help shape a text, but ideas are rarely generated by following steps that have been explicitly stated by someone else.

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