Who can teach to write?
Teaching people to write at school means teaching them to perform the different phases of the compositional process well, making them exercise on each of them, first separately, and only later, asking them to put them together. Attention, as we know, is selective and cannot address everything simultaneously, especially when learning a new skill. The children must therefore be accompanied to develop their skills on each of these phases (but even an experienced adult, as mentioned above, is not able to simultaneously manage the processes of invention, arrangement and editing). Many exercises will therefore be given that do not necessarily include the final draft of a complete and refined text, in order to emphasize the importance that the first, creative moments of the writing process also have, which can easily become a goal in itself, and not a passage to hurry to get to the finished text. Some activities will only ask to generate or collect ideas, others to put them in order, others to write starting from ideas and schedules, or to review texts already written to improve their form. Children will become so familiar with the different phases of the writing task, they will acquire a habit, a working method, which will serve them in later school orders and for life.
A great deal has been written on the teaching of writing and reference is made to the bibliography, as well as to the various didactic paths, for some work paths. Here, as a summary, we report only a “pentalogue” of advice written by one of the leading Italian linguistic education experts.
- Practicing a variety of textual genres.
- Give detailed deliveries.
- Create frequent writing opportunities even with short texts.
- Graduate the requests.
- Use differentiated evaluation criteria according to the textual genre; analytically evaluate the different textual features.
“It is easy to read back, behind these points, a systematic reversal of what has long been the dominant (if not unique) practice of writing at school: the theme. The theme includes different text genres in different ways (introspective writing, fantastic invention, exposition, argumentation and more); has a generic delivery, limited to the title; it is a long and demanding trial, and therefore practiced a few times in a year; it does not provide for gradualness, in the sense that the request is substantially the same as from the third grade at the end of secondary school; not having definite deliveries, it does not have precise evaluation criteria.
The proposal is therefore to often write even short texts, well specified in the delivery as regards textual genre, recipients and purpose (even simulated), length, linguistic register; evaluate them analytically, with reference to the requests for delivery, and have them rewritten based on the corrections and indications; graduate the requests from the simplest to the most complex. “