Paul Gardner & Sonja Kuzich – Curtin University, School of Education
Over several decades, a preoccupation with reading has dominated the literacy debate in primary education. One-sided discussions around literacy not only neglect to consider the symbiotic relationship of reading and writing, but marginalise writing as a worthwhile subject for research. Increasingly, primary teachers are using commercial writing programs as a means of scaffolding the writing curriculum. However, using NAPLAN results as a benchmark, standards of writing have consistently deteriorated over the last decade. Starting from the premise that teachers need to be confident writers in order to teach writing, this study surveyed the writing practices of First Year Primary and Early Childhood Education (ECE) B.Ed. students on entry to university.
Findings show that although student teachers write regularly, they most frequently write short, informal digital texts, rather than the text types common to the primary English curriculum. Over fifty percent of students had not written a story or poem in over two years, and in some instances, it was more than a decade. It is suggested that insufficient recent experience of writing the text-types they will teach on graduation may be a factor contributing to falling standards of writing. International studies show this phenomenon is not restricted to Australia.
The study recommends that writing should be given a higher profile in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) through a ‘knowledge in praxis’ approach in which student-teachers are positioned as writers who learn about writer agency and compositional processes as ‘insiders’.
The study is followed by a second paper, yet to be published, in which students reflect on their experiences of learning about writing after being immersed in this ‘knowledge in praxis’ approach.
An investigation of the writing experiences of pre-service teachers, Issues in Educational Research, 32(2), 513-532 http://www.iier.org.au/iier32/gardner.pdf