As Scribner and Cole present arguments for and against different considerations of writing instruction, they point out that there are certain people who advocate that “pragmatic considerations” should be valued most highly while others point out that an important function of writing is that it provides an impetus for intellectual development. This latter view is one I have long held.
I feel that as a person is learning to write well, he is also learning other important skills. These other abilities, which include thinking clearly (including formulating and reflecting on one’s own ideas, opinions, etc.) and organizing one’s thoughts in such a way that they are readily communicated to and understood by others, are as pragmatic as any educator could hope for in that it is with clear, organized thinking that a person is most likely to succeed in life.
As I read on, I continued to think about this idea that learning to write is also learning to think and communicate. The more Scribner and Cole discussed various theorists and their work, however, the more I began to question my own assumptions (and the aforementioned educators’) about writing. Perhaps naively, I had never thought of it this way, but it’s a conundrum that parallels the clichéd chicken-or-the-egg mystery: is it skill at writing that leads to clear, organized thought, or is it clear, organized thinking that leads to great writing skills? Can anyone answer definitively?