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[Susan notes: The author points out that kids spend a lot of time using grammar workbooks but not much time actually using that grammar in their own writing.]

Submitted to New York times but not published

To the editor

Re: Science: What's lost as handwriting fades?)

Children no longer write in notebooks, but fill in blanks on handouts from publishers. Notes are not available; Smartboards dominating writing space in the classroom. Writing is an act of self empowerment, which can be a threat to the system, according to Brian Cambourne, "once we take away the responsibility of the child by predetermining which layer he should or can learn, and then isolate it from the others, we begin to complicate the process of learning by decontextualizing and fragmenting the language act. We also begin to trivialize language". The whole nature of isolated "skills" preparation with Cloze Reading for the State testing is an example. Hours are spent using publishers workbooks about grammar, but precious little time of using such grammar in context of authentic writing where it will have meaning and enjoyment.

The author is a former adjunct in Literacy Studies at Queens College and retired NYC teache.

Joseph Mugivan

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