Writing and Reasoning

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Peter Elbow offered a great transition chapter from orality to writing in Writing Material.  Elbow writes, "Students can never feel writing as an activity they engage in as freely, frequently, or spontaneously as they do in speech," (Elbow, 137).

Before this quote, Elbow writes about the way children are praised for speaking when they are just learning how.  No matter what word or sound comes out of their mouths, it is encouraged that more is better.  Speech is free and it always has felt that way; you can't stop it.  Why else would there be an amendment about freedom of speech?

Given this act of praising granted by our parents, Elbow goes on to explain the way that writing makes us feel when we are young, and although I had never thought about before; it's a bad feeling.  Teachers make students write when they want to punish them.  Where is the sense in that?  When I think back on this, I can't help but think of the damage it's doing to our free will to write.  I suppose writing was good manual labor.  I can remember thinking about not wanting to be punished because I would be forced to write, and in elementary school, it certainly was not a fun task.

A punishment; that's just baffling.  Many students, such as I, have grown to learn that writing is so much more than school work.  Writing is a way to escape.  I don't know anyone who escape's by sitting and talking to themselves (as helpful as it might be).  Writing can strengthen skill and imagination.  Writing can offer a world of freedom which unfortunately does not come to our attention when we are young.

There is a possibility, in the future, that punishments in school will no longer be writing but instead a form of technological punishment.  When I look at television shows or movies that take place decades ago, the punishment in the classroom was to recite sentences or words or phrases out loud.  Then when writing became the more difficult task, that became the punishment.  So, when I look into the future of elementary school punishments, I can see it being typing on the computer or something to that affect; which, I think teachers are already putting into use.  Technology is the more difficult task then writing now because there are many more utilities involved whereas you would only need a pencil and paper to write.

4 Comments

Tiffany Gilbert said:

It's funny how you wrote about the kids who think speech is much more entertaining than writing and that they don't value writing until they are older. I believe it can go both ways. For me, I was always being told "no" partly because I was mischievous, disliked rules, and felt the need to go against the grain. When negotiation and debate failed...(Which was more often than not) I turned to writing. I'd sit in my playhouse and pout when I was not granted my wish. My pouting flopped my imagination, turned to writing and churned out short stories in my little notebooks. After sitting for an hour or two, I found myself wrapped up in a new story with complete potential and no restriction. I made the rules and no one was telling me when or how to do anything. That was my activity and my escape, even as an elemetary school student.

Tiffany Gilbert said:

It's funny how you wrote about the kids who think speech is much more entertaining than writing and that they don't value writing until they are older. I believe it can go both ways. For me, I was always being told "no" partly because I was mischievous, disliked rules, and felt the need to go against the grain. When negotiation and debate failed...(Which was more often than not) I turned to writing. I'd sit in my playhouse and pout when I was not granted my wish. My pouting flopped my imagination, turned to writing and churned out short stories in my little notebooks. After sitting for an hour or two, I found myself wrapped up in a new story with complete potential and no restriction. I made the rules and no one was telling me when or how to do anything. That was my activity and my escape, even as an elementary school student.

Megan Seigh said:

I agree with you that writing can be a great escape for children. I always loved to write from a very young age. I guess I am just looking at this from the student-teacher point-of-view. In school's where writing should flourish, it was almost taught that when you are bad is when you will write. I hope that children did go home and experience writing the way you and I did, but for the bad children who were always made to write at school, it was probably hard for them to enjoy it in another way.

Tiffany Gilbert said:

Very true. I remember writing the glossary when I did something I wasn't supposed to. And then we had to write a few paragraphs from what we learned by copying those defintions. And I knew my teacher would skim through and hardly read what I wrote and that is a major turn off to writing, when you're forced to and the teacher doesn't even read it. You feel useless so why bother with it later? I understand that it takes away the free will and enthusiasm of writing.

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