Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recreational Writers

Several years ago sitting next to Harry Hood over lunch he recalled a conversation he had with Marie Clay about recreational readers. She said "you know whats wrong with this country Harry? We have thousands of kids who can read but don't". How many teachers roll their eyes, nod their heads or say amen to that one. My sons catholic school are so desperate to get their kids to read they have huge signs around their school saying "Boys who read ACHIEVE". The key is "foster a love of" not "able to" read. Harry made the point "recreational readers pass exams"
There is another step to this however. What about those people like me who haven't fostered a love of books, but have fostered a love of conversation, observation, discussion, we read only the relevant bits and watch and listen, we have plenty to say, is their hope for us? We have a love of what we do, our work, our sports, our families, surely Marie Clay has room for us. Through blogging we have become the recreational writers, surely recreational writers pass exams too!
For three years now I have followed a young mans blog he was 9 when he started. He loves sport and in the early blogs of 2008 his teacher/school cleverly used the Olympics as the hook. After a few posts I noticed that he was posting after 3pm and even at night.
The defining moment however came when Tanielu blogged in January in the middle of the school holidays. Name a ten year old pacific island boy who is recreationally writing in their christmas holidays. Yes there was a very real reason for the blog post but the boundaries between the classroom and home had become intertwined. Learning is everywhere, he wasn't writing because he was forced to, it was because he had to, he had something to say and he said it.
Other subtleties that come from this blog is that if you read todays articles and compare them to the very early posts you can see how his writing has developed amazingly (no need for moodle or mahara or scanning rubbish into an eportfolio). By the way Dan you are an observant, intelligent sports writer!
Tanielu keeps his cluster maps before they clear out annually, smart work Dan it can be encouraging to see those dots.
Search Tanielu in google, guess who is the number 1 hit.
If you check the comments you get people writing in Samaon. You get adults giving adult opinion. You get teachers encouraging (but not so necessary now). You get family members. You get classmates and kids from other schools. But the gold is you get someone called Dad, with amazing thoughtful, insightful, encouraging words. This is a winning story.

In many ways I can relate to Tanielu. I started blogging in 2008, I write because I have something to say. It takes time, process, thought. I know it takes maintenance, discipline but the bug is catchy, it's rewarding. When someone posts a comment it's cool. When you see a red dot on the map or follow the live traffic feed, its a buzz, and I'm a Benji Marshall fan too.

If you want justification for elearning, or you are thinking of blogging in your classroom then this says it all. I get ample visitors who look at elearning and I am certain they go back to their schools and do nothing. Stop the inactivity and get active, get the hook going with your kids now. As my old mate Jim Ferguson always said "these kids are year 4 once, make it the best year 4 ever". Foster a love of writing, it's not only possible, it's imperative.
Teachers this takes work, this is one small story, it's not a miracle, it is what is expected for 21st century teaching. Big ups to Dan's school you guys lead the way.
Go the Tigers !


Regan Orr said...

Well said - perfect.

GimliNZ said...

Summy, as one who loves to read, will yarn 'till the cows come home, yet find the effort of writing just too much, I appreciate your perspective on writing.

I have tried time and again to be a recreational writer. I believe I have some things that are worthwhile saying and appreciate the cathartic experience that writing offers. I know I can write (School Cert English was my only A pass), I love the use of words, but I just can't find the passion that would make me a recreational writer.

I suppose when it comes to recreation there are lots of other activities that give me more payoff.

Having said all that, I do believe kids do have an opportunity these days, which needs to be encouraged, to be recreational writers (with an audience) thanks to the availability of blogs. Tanielu is a wonderful example of that.

Thanks for sharing.


Podgorani said...

Thats true Al, I say the opportunity is what exists and needs to be taken by teachers. I don't think I will ever become a read-aholic i'm sure you havent got the bug to put pen to paper. opportunity, thats what it is all about

MsBee said...

I read your post and wish that I worked face to face with the adults and children that you mention... I am about to present a workshop on teaching in the 21st century - we are one tenth into it... how are we progressing? If you have classes, teachers or children that would be keen to collaborate with "after hour" blogging, I am working with a very keen bunch who would love to read and respond...

Russell Burt said...

Heya Luke

Love the idea expressed here. Really appreciate the Tanielu e.g. (for proprietary as well as evidence based reasons!)
You make me feel guilty for not blogging, which actually says something powerful about the persuasive nature of your writing.

Ups mate.

Podgorani said...

MsBee hard for me to make a promise as I dont have a class but i will circulate your details to staff.

Russ as Gimli says its not for everyone, thats the beauty of reading, writing and doing. I have you in the doing category. The thing is that we are all able to be successful at any of these media given we practice, are encouraged, guided, inspired and more, seems someone ticked those boxes for Dan.

Cheryl Doig said...

I am an avid reader and always have been. There are others who aren't. Some of these are great readers and some not so. I think we have worried too much about kids choosing not to read, even if they are good readers, rather than thinking about why they don't read. Writing with authentic purpose, reading for a reason, connections, collaborations...isn't it time we thought differently about the whole way literacy unfolds for individuals? I agree that conversation, oral competency and listening are just as important and yet sadly neglected and undervalued.