Writing: energy taking shape

TEXT ONE: I give you my heart. (4yrs. This child speaks fluent German, Luxembourgish, a little French, a few words of English, and fluent Swedish)

AUTHORING: Children become authors when they indicate that they have created a message with the intention to communicate, or at least that they understand that their marks might be meaningful to others if their audience knows how to interpret them. (Rowe, in Hall et al, 2003:259)

girl in love

TEXT TWO: girl in love (5yrs 10m)

WRITING: Writing now plays one part in communicational ensembles, and no longer the part. (Kress, 2003)

drawing or writing

TEXT THREE: birds, or birds and numbers? (4yrs, 6m)

MEANING: the complex interactions of intentions, content and form (Goodman & Wilde, 1992)

italics play 5yrs 5m

TEXT FOUR: 5yrs 5m

SIGN: something that stands for something to somebody  (van Lier, 2004)

clothes signature bathroom

TEXT FIVE: 6yrs

PERFORMANCE: refers not simply to language use but also to the creative construction of self and others (…) distinction between representational knowledge and language use (Pavlenko, 2005)

In her book, Fluid Arguments (2005), the Canadian writer, Nicole Brossard, speaks of writing as ‘energy taking shape in language’. I see what she means and I go along with her. A particularity of all the texts presented in this blogpost, however, is that the language being displayed is not what we traditionally understand as language (French, German, English etc.) although it would be fair to assume that such conventional language practice, in the form of internal thought, may well have accompanied the production of these texts. Nor is it simply the case that the child isn’t writing ‘traditionally’ because s/he is not yet able to. Children around this age most certainly are, as I have proven elsewhere.

Brossard’s definition of writing as ‘energy taking shape’, therefore, invites us to be more open-minded regarding what writing is/n’t. I could even modify her definition and describe writing as energy having taken shape; it’s there, fixed, the writer has selected its shape and that’s how it’ll remain. On a different level, though, I can’t fail to see these texts as immensely dynamic; look at those two hands literally pushing that heart towards you in the first text. Or the fluidity of the pen-strokes in the fourth text, where they pirouette and dip gleefully, occasionally winking at us with signs/letters we believe we recognize (an o, a v…). I remember the heated discussions with fellow researchers, as with my tutors, over the nature of Text Five. I’ll stick to my guns; it’s not mere drawing. And it’s not static either. If you initially thought any of these texts were not writing (as a form of language), take another look and see if you still agree.

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