HD: The Writing Revolution
Posted: 21 September 2012 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]
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A very interesting approach to helping low-performing students.

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Posted: 22 September 2012 03:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Here we go again and since it’s felt that academic studies count for more than practical experience when it comes to giving opinions ...

It’s not new, and it’s what many good teachers have been doing all along. It doesn’t, though, mention that you have to start even further back - look at the whole child and try to smoothe out any issues that may be preventing that child from achieving.

edit : comma for clarity

[ Edited: 22 September 2012 04:50 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 22 September 2012 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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The article Dave cites poses some interesting questions. Apparently not all the children, in classes where writing was not taught, remained incapable of expressing thoughts clearly in writing. So how do/did children who were not formally taught writing, acquire writing skills? Does it have to do with a home environment? How many parents assume an active role in their children’s intellectual development?

A number of years ago, I was working on an operator training project for a great U.S. papermaking company, and happened to get talking about it with one of that company’s executives. He said, of the company’s operators (with regard to the problems of systematic training): “most of them haven’t, for the last twenty or thirty years, read anything beyond the funnies page in the weekend newspaper, and haven’t written anything, other than their name on the check at the supermarket”. This was a disdainful, elitist remark, of the “give them a bathtub and they’ll keep coal in it” category*--- but the question remains, what chance has a kid who grows up in an essentially illiterate home environment, of escaping from it—other than whatever chance school provides? And how do some children overcome the shortcomings of such an environment, and become literate against the odds, even when school fails to provide help?

Some time ago, we discussed this subject against the background of 1984. Orwell’s premise was that by keeping people illiterate (with Newspeak etc.) you could keep them from thinking clearly about their own position in society, and thus control them more easily. There was a lot of disagreement in the forum, I recall, with this premise --- but the phenomena described in the cited article do seem to lend it some support.

(Note: when I see Facebook’s reduction of criticism to “Like/don’t like” I can’t help being reminded of “good/ungood”.)

* Illiteracy is not the exclusive property of manual workers. Talking to this exec., I happened to use the word “germane”, and was amused to observe that he himself used it three or four times, within the following five minutes - getting in practice, I guess, for the next managerial discussion at Head Office. It struck me that this man’s intellectual world was probably no less clearly circumscribed than that of the operators he deprecated, and was defined by “Managerspeak”, with a slightly larger --- but no less thought-stifling --- vocabulary than “Operatorspeak”.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The article doesn’t lend any support to the notion that limiting one’s vocabulary will limit the capacity for thought because the article is solely about writing. It omits speech, the primary means of learning and using language, altogether.

Writing is an artificial construct layered on top of speech some five thousand years ago, and much more recently if you’re talking about widespread literacy. Whereas speech is a natural ability of humans that is at least a hundred thousand years old. We learn speech organically as toddlers. No one has to teach us; our brains are wired for it. Writing on the other hand, is difficult, must be taught, and takes many more years to master. If you want to have an effect on basic thought processes, it is speech you need to focus on, not writing. (And it’s not clear that altering language patterns has much of an effect.)

As for political effect, the largely illiterate French peasants of 1789 didn’t find it difficult to foment revolution. Yes, restricting literacy can limit the scope and variety of political arguments the people are exposed to, but it doesn’t seem to affect their ability to think about those arguments once they do hear them.

Where writing helps thought is primarily in thinking through consequences, alternatives, and objections to arguments. Because writing, as opposed to speech, is deliberate, it takes time to set out one’s argument on paper. In that time, you think through the various aspects and effects of your argument. That practice is what is critical. Anyone is capable of it, even an illiterate, but someone who knows how to write well is good and practiced at it.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 04:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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(Note: when I see Facebook’s reduction of criticism to “Like/don’t like” I can’t help being reminded of “good/ungood”.)

“Unlike” is a Zuckerverb.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 04:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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OP Tipping - 23 September 2012 04:01 AM

(Note: when I see Facebook’s reduction of criticism to “Like/don’t like” I can’t help being reminded of “good/ungood”.)

“Unlike” is a Zuckerverb.

And Facebook doesn’t have an “unlike” option.  It does, however, have a Comment space.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Yes, I take the point that vocabulary and writing skills are two completely different things, and that I didn’t make any sort of clear distinction between them.  But I’m still left wondering why, of a group of children all exposed to the same teaching, some should develop writing skills and others not.  Surely it’s not a matter of different levels of intelligence? Does it boil down simply to a matter of different degrees of inherent aptitude, as with maths, say, or origami?

Faldage - I confused “Youtube” with “Facebook” . Should have known better - but I don’t spend an awful lot of time on either of them. Thanks for the correction.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Facebook does have an unlike option, but it does not mean the same thing as ungood or ‘bad’. If you have liked a post or a comment, you may choose unlike to reverse your position.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 01:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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1) How should students, whose essays are formed using sentences that are flowing and logically-constructed but show a lack of basic grammar*, poor punctuation and unconventional spelling, be helped? Or even, should they be corrected at all?

2) Is general lack of progress in education due to poor intelligence or unfortunate environmental influences?

I’m not offering opinions based on my own first-hand experience but I’m curious to know the opinions of the posters here - and any appropriate academic studies.

*eg confusion of tense etc.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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jheem - 23 September 2012 09:06 AM

Facebook does have an unlike option, but it does not mean the same thing as ungood or ‘bad’. If you have liked a post or a comment, you may choose unlike to reverse your position.

But the unlike option acts only for undoing the like[/] option.  Its effect is essentially indistinguishable from not exercising the like option.

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Posted: 23 September 2012 02:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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And Facebook doesn’t have an “unlike” option.

Sure’n’it does.

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