Writing to style

4th August 2000 at 01:00
I READ with interest the article "Concern over writing mounts" (TESS, July 21).

A few months ago I was involved in an exchange of letters with an adviser to the National Literacy Strategy.

She disparaged writing workshops and treated the term "creative writing" with a high degree of contempt.

In the light of the growing

gap between reading and writing standards maybe she and other proponents of the strategy should revise their views or at least show some humility in

considering other opinions.

Two points arise. First, there will always be a gap between reading and writing, but one as big as at present might lead us to question whether reading standards are really as high as claimed. Reading amounts to more than the information retrieval that seems to ominate the thinking behind the literacy hour.

Low writing scores suggest that there are huge gaps in genuine reading ability (in which pleasure should figure prominently). After all, a good writer has to be a good reader.

Second, writing depends, among other things, upon a synthesis of sustained concentration, creative stamina and the will to write well, not just an aggregate of formal skills, however necessary they are.

Creative writing should be a core feature of the primary curriculum. Too many schools are retreating from it altogether to gain marks in "easier" letter and non-fiction writing. It is time to challenge the dogmatic and rigid adherence to the strategy.

Alan Gibbons

Primary teacher and children's author

Chatsworth, Liverpool

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