Writing to Learners



I've been one poor correspondent
I've been too, too hard to find,
but that doesn't mean you ain't been on my mind.
America, Sister Golden Hair


I am, too - a terrible correspondent. Which is sad given how easy it is to communicate using today's technology.

This morning I finally replied to an email an adult literacy learner sent almost a week ago.

Now, setting aside my own poor habits, email and instant messages and whatnot are wonderful tools for facilitating functional reading / writing. It's much more "life-like" than, say, those writing-response journals where the learner writes something in a scribbler, and then hands it to the facilitator to write a response, and so on. Out here in the real world, we almost never write notes to one another in our day planners and notebooks. Well... around here we don't. I don't know about your workplace.

Besides being more authentic, email exchanges are convenient (supposing everybody has a PC in good working order) and cheap (supposing everybody has internet access).

Real mail, while more bother, is also an excellent way to facilitate reading/writing. In has the advantages of reinforcing addressing skills and such.

Sadly, I don't even send my learners birthday cards in the mail.

Why not? I don't know. It seems like a good idea.

Which brings us to the gap between theory and practice; between what we know to be effective, and what we actually do.

Why that is, why we don't follow through on our better intentions, is a matter for a different post.

(BTW - I believe it's got little to do with laziness, a little bit to do with the quality of our work spaces and habits, and lots to do with a greater or lesser sense of work-related empowerment and freedom - a.k.a., the ability to be ourselves.)



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