The phrase “reading and writing” reflects the implicit assumption that reading comes first and that writing must follow. First graders can “write” all the words they can say, albeit in their own manner and using invented spelling. Encouraging this kind of writing gives children control over letters and texts, giving them an understanding that they need ultimately for reading. The word learning itself tends to promote reading over writing because we often assume learning refers to input, not output, that it’s a matter of putting other people’s ideas inside us. Writing is more caught up with meaning making, however, and encourages students to break out of their characteristically passive stance in school and in learning. “Reading tends to imply ‘Sit still and pay attention’, whereas writing tends to imply ‘Get in there and do something.’” It’s not the case that putting writing first--output before input--will encourage rampant individualism. Reading and writing are joined, in fact, at the hip. Students will put more care into reading when they have had more of a chance to write.
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