Friday, August 19, 2005

Writing to understand

One of the purposes of writing is that it can help one more fully understand a concept or line of thinking. This was illustrated to me while reading Thomas Friedman's book, The World is Flat, a wonderful gift from one of our very kind teachers. Friedman was discussing the genesis of his book idea and said this:
I wanted to drop everything and write a book that would enable me to understand how this flattening process happened and what its implications might be for countries, companies, and individuals.

That really struck me. He indicates that the process of writing the book would better help him understand this phenomenon that he had been uncovering. This underscores the great value in writing across the curriculum. Students should be encouraged and taught to write a summary of a new concept in math or a finding in science. They shuold also be able to write as they explore new ideas. The process of writing will hellp refine their thinking and cement new concepts. This announcement of an NCTE conference gives more food for thought on this topic. Professor Jeffrey Golub says,
We can do so much more with writing than simply use it to show what we have learned. We can actually accomplish the learning itself through writing.

Janet Swenson adds,
These actions are dependent, however, on a student's ability to 're-view' what they have been thinking at a particular point in time--in other words, asking students to write is not always for the purpose of measuring their learning about a particular subject; sometimes it is for the purpose of improving the quality of their thinking.

So, by students writing they can accomplish more learning and improve their quality of thinking, or maybe even write a national bestseller like Thomas Friedman! Let's get to writing!!

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