Talking, Sketching, Moving: Multiple Literacies in the Teaching of Writing
College composition is failing on three counts: we are not using all available means of helping students realize and use the power of written text; we are relying too much on linguistic pathways; and we are not taking full advantage of what students can teach us about other ways of knowing. In short, we're excluding people. Talking, Sketching, Moving offers a better alternative.
Patricia Dunn makes the case for a writing pedagogy that draws upon multiple literacies and then gives numerous, detailed examples of how that theory can be translated into classroom practice. Challenging the assumption that written texts play an almost exclusive role in the production of knowledge in composition classrooms, her book foregrounds other, more intellectually diverse ways of knowing: oral, visual, kinesthetic, spatial, and social pathways. Dunn goes on to describe what she and her students learned when they experimented with Freire's "multiple channels of communication" and how it helped them gain the metacognitive distance they needed for writing and revision.
Dunn is not the first person to encourage writing instructors to explore multiple literacies. But, with too few exceptions, those calls have been ignored - due mostly to narrow assumptions about how people come to know, as well as a vested interest in promoting language-based epistemologies. Ultimately, Dunn urges compositionists to expect more of themselves and their students.