Sunday, 20 November 2011

Using creative writing to increase confidence and motivation for learning amongst adult literacy students


During the last few years I have taught Literacy to a variety of learners in circumstances ranging from discrete courses for those with learning difficulties to long-term unemployed adults and those engaged in training as part of the last government’s Train to Gain scheme. Regardless of the situation, I have often found motivation particularly lacking when it comes to writing tasks. Learners can easily see the value of reading as it’s a skill we use every day in tasks as unrelated as shopping, driving and cooking. The printed word is everywhere. What’s more, it has authority. When something is written down it is perceived to carry a certain amount of importance, therefore motivation to read is generally quite high. Writing, however, is easier to avoid. What’s more, because the written word is viewed as having authority, many people – even those with sound ‘literacy skills’ – feel insecure about their ability to express themselves on paper. This reluctance to write, I believe, stems from the fact that historically, the act of writing was most frequently practiced by the educated and ‘ruling’ classes. For those engaged in physical labour, where strength and manual dexterity had obvious financial benefits, writing was seen as having little practical value.

My background is in Creative Writing and my purpose in carrying out this research was to look at ways Creative Writing might be used to empower learners, increasing their self-confidence and motivating them to improve their literacy skills. I wanted to look at the ways Creative Writing has been used by other educators and to gauge its effectiveness in teaching Literacy. I also wanted to gather new ideas and teaching methods to improve my own practice.