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Found 1 result

  1. I've been expending time and brainsweat the past few months on trying to really *understand* the similarities and differences between SWB's approach to writing, and the Bravewriter/Peter Elbow approach to writing (Peter Elbow is one of the main influences behind BW - TWJ lists three of his books as inspiration - and I loved TWJ so much I looked them up on the spot - and I love Peter Elbow so much I now have five of his books and still haven't gotten back to TWJ because of it :shifty). Anyway, after many hours of thinking and typing today, I finally reached something of a breakthrough on part of it, and I'm so chuffed I'm posting it here in the hopes it might be helpful to others :). I'm putting my sum-up and sum-up of the sum-up ;) up top, and then I'll post the big, long analysis that led to that, so as to not clutter up the main post. To sum up: I agree with SWB that developing fluency and automaticity in producing Standard Written English (SWE) is a good thing, and that it takes time and effort to achieve. I disagree that SWE is effectively a foreign language compared to unplanned English speech, and that you cannot/should-not harness spoken competence in teaching written competence in SWE. (And, actually, SWB sorta-kinda gives a nod to the importance of involving the ear and the tongue: she is a big advocate of lots and lots of reading of SWE - helps internalize the patterns and feel of SWE - and I think she's a fan of reading aloud, even when students are fluent readers (even if she isn't, I still am :shifty:giggle). And of course she uses narrations in spoken SWE as a key component. So I'd say she *does* value spoken competency in learning to write - she just doesn't think non-SWE language (whether spoken or written) has anything to offer in teaching/learning SWE - that "writing is a foreign language" thing.) I agree with Peter Elbow that we can and should build on our spoken competency (regular ol' unplanned speech) in teaching how to develop written competency - that writing is basically recorded speech, and that our intuitive knowledge of spoken English is a powerful help in learning to both speak well and to write well - is in fact the *core* of our language knowledge, and all our conscious, explicit language learning should build on it and be rooted in it and continually refer back to it. I disagree that the better solution to non-fluency in mechanics and surface conventions is to adopt crutches to get by (learn how to separate the bulk of writing from the parts you aren't fluent in, so you can write effectively in spite of your lack of fluency, dealing with that lack by pushing it off until the very end, when you either rely on handbooks or friends or paid professionals to copy-edit), instead of working steadily to achieve fluency. (In fairness, Elbow does actually value learning to be fluent in those areas - and offers up ways to harness our intuitive knowledge to get us most of the way there with knowledge we already have - but his primary audience is college students and adult students - who have already passed by their main chance to become fluent in those mechanics - and Elbow doesn't want to feed into the idea that you can't be a writer until you can churn out error-free prose. And I *do* agree with him, strongly, that it is much easier to turn good writing into correct writing with a good dose of copy-editing at the end than to attempt to turn blah correct writing into *good* writing - the latter is in need of much more than a quick polish. He's totally right that they are surface issues - I just am concerned 1) about the practical issues of not being able to turn out workmanlike relatively error-free prose on the first try, because so much day-to-day writing goes infinitely smoother with that skill, and 2) the lingering negative effects of not being fluent, no matter how good the kludges - I understand doing the best you can with what you've got, but when starting from the beginning with new writers, who have *time* to work to fluency, I don't want to settle for a second-best kludge-y non-fluency unless I *have* to, due to issues outside my control.) To sum up the sum up ;): The key difference does indeed seem to be the idea of writing as a foreign language - is our intuitive spoken knowledge of English a base to build on, or a parallel track, with no intersection with writing? - and there I fall on Peter Elbow's side. However, I do indeed value all SWB's goals, and want to achieve fluency in SWE (not just be able to edit my way there) - I just also believe that I can get there better/faster/simpler if I build on our intuitive knowledge of spoken English, instead of ignoring it as having nothing to offer. Implications for homeschooling: *the basic plan of brave writer plus WWE seems sound *big mod to WWE will be grammar teaching that builds on intuitive knowledge of English - gives words to concepts we already know, and teaches us how to consciously use our intuitive knowledge at will, to achieve specific goals - instead of teaching and practicing explicit rules so much that we internalize them; planned approach - work through Patterns of English, plus some diagramming, plus Whimbey's sentence combining, plus Killgallon, plus Elbow's techniques for training the ear. *biggish mod to brave writer will be a possibly? greater caring/emphasis on correct mechanics. Might not be a huge deal, as planning to do a serious spelling program (most of which do indeed take full advantage of training the ear to hear, in addition to teaching the eye to spell), and the grammar/WWE will address punctuation and conventions in terms of enhancing understanding - not that BW doesn't address that, but I believe it's more in the copy-editing phase, as opposed to practicing it to fluency.
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