Writing: The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication - Vol. 1

Writing: The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication - Vol. 1

Writing: The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication - Vol. 1

Writing: The Nature, Development, and Teaching of Written Communication - Vol. 1

Excerpt

Marcia Farr Whiteman

National Institute of Education

William S. Hall

Center for the Study of Reading

One does not need to look very far for evidence of a national concern about the quality of writing in the United States today. This concern seems to be twofold: first, people are çoncerned that students are not learning to write, and second, they are concerned that writing as used outside of school (e.g., in public documents, at the workplace, in advertising, etc.) often is incomprehensible or misleading. Education journals and the mass media are full of complaints about illiteracy in general and "the writing problem" in particular. The focus of the concern is on our schools, because this is where students are presumably not learning to write, so that in their later roles as workers they are apparently unable to express necessary information clearly in written form.

The National Institute of Education has been responding to this problem by developing a research agenda with the ultimate goal of improving the learning and teaching of writing in this country. Writing has been selected as a major program area because of the national concern and as an outgrowth of NIE's equity concerns. The students for whom educational achievement in general and writing achievement in particular has been most elusive in this country are primarily poor, speakers of non-mainstream dialects, and members of minority groups--that is, those who are least powerful and participate least in our society. Writing can be an important tool for increasing the educational achievement of such people since writing is a central aspect of real learning, or education in its truest sense.

When the furor "functional illiteracy" is closely examined, it becomes apparent that almost the entire focus is on reading rather than writing (e.g., functional literacy tests don't test writing, even though they often test math . . .

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