Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Writing and Adult literacy

Today I am zinging between writing a small children's story and a story for an adult literacy competition. I loved and love teaching adult literacy. I used to take distance education for OTEN in Sydney and enjoyed using many of my writing skills and brainstorming ways to encourage struggling adults to try and pick up a pen and write.

One of the most effective means of doing this was the message book- a kind of letter personal and full of details about your own life and then encouraging the student to tell you a bit about their own life. And gobsmacking details were wonderful. One young fella did his lessons on horseback as he went through the outback servicing water troughs. And I can tell you that he had that gift of story telling- if only the mechanics of fashioning the letters and stringing letters together would come more naturally instead of painstakingly hard. Yet I think and believe that this kind of personal letter/diary/journal was wonderful in stretching out writing skills and showing how much the student had to offer in life.

Honing in on interests was another great way- their work, hobbies, family. A garden diary, a craft diary, a farm diary. A conversation diary. A list to slip into a wallet, a purse with the telling details that needed to be written over and over again on forms, on school communication.

Actually I am still writing to one of my students 15 years after I first took her through her first correspondence lesson- which reminds me I owe her a letter.

I suppose what I'm saying is- that writing needs to equate to an everyday function- yet how much of many people's lives are lost, are whittled down because of a fear of writing(and reading).

Write on! Read on! Literacy is another side of my career as an author and poet.

1 comment:

tjoyy said...

great in sight - someone close to me wont write in birthday cards as thye are afraid that their hand writing looks bad! I like the journey way of communicating too - lucky you enjoying stories from all around australia