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Owning Your Own Writing

David Philips

As we write we construct knowledge, we manipulate information, we develop ourselves, and we get, as a bonus, the pleasure of authorship. Our writing develops and we use it for a wide range of constructive purposes, including learning.
This present day view of writing is in sharp contrast with the older practice which, in fact if not in theory, saw writing as useful only for getting facts down or for testing what had been learnt in examinations.
The new look also notes that writing has social functions and value, and that it is a personal skill which is acquired somewhat differently by each learner. The words on the paper, video screen, or tape recorder belong to, or are owned by the individual. This article presents some of the more influential views which have helped to bring about this change, and shares some of the findings of a recent research study which Anne O'Rourke and I carried out as part of the New Zealand Writing Project, entitled Responding Effectively to Pupils' Writing. Among other things, it looked at how teachers make sure pupils own their own writing.

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