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Understanding the lifelong journey of writing development

Abstract

A lifetime of development goes into becoming a mature effective writer who communicates important new thoughts to relevant audiences. That development is multi-dimensional, taking many years of work to expand repertoires of resources and strategies, to learn to address a variety of audiences and situations; to increase confidence to take on difficult tasks creatively and to make strong statements that risk social and material consequences; and to build powers of focused concentration. Those who succeed at writing tend to start early and keep working at it throughout most of their lives. A lifespan perspective can help us appreciate the particular contribution of each level to writing education and can guide us in designing appropriate educational tasks at each level and larger curricular trajectories. We now have sufficient research to begin to create an empirically-grounded, multi-dimensional picture of lifespan development. For a variety of reasons, however, we have not yet been able to develop such a picture. These reasons include the entanglement of development with curriculum, the divisions of research according to age epochs and theoretical approaches, and the difficulties of longitudinal research. Nonetheless, research on emergent literacy points the way towards understanding how linguistic, psychological, sociocultural, compositional, and rhetorical components of writing come together in the developing individual writer. It is time to build a larger, lifelong picture out of the pieces of our research. © 2013 Fundación Infancia y Aprendizaje.

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