Using Writing to Learn

28 Jul

“Writing to Learn” is a phrase which has grown in meaning and application since its first usage. Toby Fulwiler and Art Young (“Introduction” to Language Connections: Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum) claim that using

Writing to communicate–or what James Britton calls “transactional writing”–means writing to accomplish something, to inform, instruct, or persuade. . . . Writing to learn is different. We write to ourselves as well as talk with others to objectify our perceptions of reality; the primary function of this “expressive” language is not to communicate, but to order and represent experience to our own understanding. In this sense language provides us with a unique way of knowing and becomes a tool for discovering, for shaping meaning, and for reaching understanding. (p. x)

Other teacher/scholars such as Syrene Forsman (“Writing to Learn Means Learning to Think”) talk about writing to learn as a way for students to “try a variety of thought processes in classes,” thus developing “considerable mental power. Writing is one of the most effective ways to develop thinking.” (p. 162)


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