Friday, November 24, 2006

Victory: Songwriting

My child came up with another brilliant literary venture yesterday.
His teacher had sent home a song on a sheet inside a folder and he’d observed that the children in the choir also have sheets inside folders.
He’s always been partial to rock music, usually certain songs by singer/songwriters like Donovan, Pete Seeger, Steve Miller, so he tends to sing single lines from songs over and over.
He said he needed a folder with some paper with lines inside it and announced he was going to write his own songs. I encouraged him, saying there was no need to worry about spelling, just get it down and we’ll fix it later. He asked me to write some frequently occurring words on the inside of the folder and then he wrote five different songs which comprised a line or two each.
It was a great success because there was a sense of achievement involved and the writing process was over fairly quickly for him and he was happy with the results.
It made me realize that our perception on what constitutes writing is limited and we need to broaden our thinking. A child doesn’t need to be writing essays or perfectly spelled sentences about something that means absolutely nothing to them. There are so many forms in which writing can take place and we need to embrace and place value on more of them. Classrooms need to start broadening how they deal with children who have written output issues. Writing doesn’t need to be a loathsome activity for these children.
Again I see a connection with materials in this experience. The child needed visually and kinastetically to have a folder with the pages inside. This was how he visualised the experience. If I sat him at the table with a flat piece of paper and said go write some songs it would not have happened. He had to suggest it, direct and instigate it himself. Factors like how things look and feel are very important to these children because the act of writing is much more demanding of them. It fatigues them. So there needs to be residual things to motivate them to continue.

1 comment:

Jeff Oxenford said...

I write songs with my daughter in the car. I tap out a beat on my leg or dashboard and then she comes up with the lines. I sometimes add a rhyme to help her get the idea.

You can check out the song "Going to the River" that we wrote in the car on my website.