Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice

By James D. Williams | Go to book overview

8
The Psychology of Writing

MIND AND LANGUAGE

People use language, specifically writing, to interact with one another and the world around them. Part of this interaction is related to learning, for writing can be used in a general way to enhance knowledge. Language provides a kind of rehearsal that helps people remember things better. As a vehicle for analysis, it can reveal a subject's complexities, and it also can help organize thoughts. Given these factors, many teachers and scholars believe that a strong relation exists between mind and language.

The nature of this relation continues to be vigorously debated. Some believe that the nature of mind influences the nature of language. Based on the work of Jean Piaget, one of the foremost child psychologists, this view proposes that language is part of the capacity to represent ideas and objects mentally (Piaget & Inhelder, 1969). Hence cognition in general has structural parallels to language. Both, for example, are hierarchical as well as linear, and both are temporally ordered.

In Piaget's view, cognitive abilities developmentally precede linguistic abilities; thus, the development of linguistic structures depends on cognitive abilities. Trimbur (1987) suggested that this view finds expression in composition studies as an “inner/outer” dualism, in which “the writer's mind is a kind of box” that teachers try to pry open “in order to free what is stored inside” (p. 211). This view is implicit in those approaches to rhetoric and composition that stress writing as a discovery procedure. In these approaches, writers are deemed incapable of knowing what they want to say prior to writing.

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Preparing to Teach Writing: Research, Theory, and Practice
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xiii
  • 1 - The Foundations of Rhetoric 1
  • 2 - Contemporary Rhetoric 42
  • 3 - Best Practices 98
  • 4 - The Classroom as Workshop 131
  • 5 - Reading and Writing 151
  • 6 - Grammar and Writing 171
  • 7 - English as a Second Language and Nonstandard English 215
  • 8 - The Psychology of Writing 257
  • 9 - Writing Assignments 279
  • 10 - Assessing and Evaluating Writing 297
  • Appendix A - Writing Myths 345
  • Appendix B - Sample Essays 354
  • References 362
  • Author Index 385
  • Subject Index 391
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