Through the looking glass darkly

Amanda French – 0024
BERA conference paper

effective student writing requires certain kinds of ‘situated’ writing practices. How and why particular writing practices reflect and shape the world view of individuals and their place in any given discourse community. 

What are the values and attitudes that underpin discourses around writing in higher education. And how do these inform and shape lecturer’s expectations and perceptions of students’ writing. 

Her question mirrors the question I have asked – although the terrain within which it is located is different. 

The desire is to deconstruct and interrogate these assumptions. (They – the assumptions, beliefs –  must first of all be made visible). The point then of research is to disrupt, de-familiarise and problematise the ‘discourse of transparency’. 

I also want to identify the tensions and trace the contours along which these tension are manifest. To arrive at a new set of metaphors for how these two notions of literacy co-exist. 

Saturated discourses – rendered invisible by their very situatedness.  Often writing is treated as the finished product. 

I remain interested and deeply curious about Bereiter and Scaramalia (1987) the role that writing plays in the learning process – which would fling me back to the position that views it as thoroughly embedded – writing what we know is thoroughly entwined in the process of what we know. 

I note in this thinking that one of the attitudes that literacy teachers often have about writing an literacy is that language is either right or it is wrong. I suspect they treat my attempts to dislodge the ultimate correctness of language – its thorough mutability as idiosyncratic. 

For some this absoluteness of language is an anchor. Like the belief in intelligence. 

My desire is to explore teachers perceptions of language, their own experience of language and theory constructions of language as a pedagogic resource with the intention of understanding how they embody or reflect particular epistemological or political world views. 

Methodology – I am here drawn to situational analysis – grounded theory pushed around the postmodern turn & Institutional ethnography. 

I am at data that has ‘depth’ & thickness rather than breadth. 


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