• Scribing the writer: implications of the social construction of writer identity for pedagogy and paradigms of written composition

      Gardner, Paul (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2014-05)
      A reflexive analysis of five peer reviewed published papers reveals how socio-cultural and political discourses and individual agency compete to shape the identity of the learner-writer. It is posited that although hegemonic political discourses construct ‘schooling literacy’ (Meek 1988 ) which frame the socio-cultural contexts in which texts, authors, teachers and leaners develop; the socio-cultural standpoint of the individual makes possible conscious construction of counter discourses. Writer identity is integral to the compositional process. However, writer identity is mediated by, on the one hand, dominant discourses of literacy that inform current pedagogies of writing (Paper One) and on the other by socio-cultural narratives that shape identity (Paper Three). A synthesis of Gramsci’s notion of cultural hegemony and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory is used to explain the constraining function of dominant discourses in literacy education. These works largely fall within a qualitative paradigm, although a mixed-method approach was adopted for the data collection of Papers Four and Five. The methods these papers had in common were the use of survey and documentary analysis of reflective journals. A semi-structured interview with a focus group was the third method used to collect data for Paper Five. Individual semi-structured interviews were used to collect partial life-histories for Paper Two and textual analysis of pupils’ narrative writing was the main method used for Paper One. Paper Three involved a rhizotextual auto-ethnographic analysis of original poetry. Findings suggest pedagogies which minimise or negate the identity of the writer are counter-productive in facilitating writer efficacy. It is suggested, the teaching of writing should be premised on approaches that encourage the writer to draw upon personal, inherited and secondary narratives. In this conceptualisation of writing, the writer is simultaneously composing and exploring aspects of self. However, the self is not a fixed entity and writing is viewed as a process by which identity emerges through reflexive engagement with the compositional process. The corollary is that pedagogy of writing needs to embrace the identity of the writer, whilst also allowing space for the writer’s ‘becoming’.