chapter  3
44 Pages

What Children Know About Writing Before Being Formally Taught to Write

In the mid-1970s a number of psychologists from North and South America, working quite independently of one another, began to conduct aseries of experiments that were unlike anything being undertaken in the field of psychology at that time. These psychologists asked very young children, ages 3 and 4, to read and write as the children believed this should be done. More than 40 years before, American and Russian psychologists had done something similar (Hildreth, 1936; Luria, 1929/1978), although they described what they were doing differently. Luria, who worked with Vygotsky in the 1920s, was looking for "the pre-history of written language," whereas Emilia Ferreiro (1985) studied the "psychogenesis of writing," and William Teale and Elizabeth Sulzby (1986) were investigating "emergent literacy." Put simply, however, all of these psychologists were exploring the way in which young children write bei are they start school and are taught to spell conventionally. What they did marked a turning point in the field of developmental psychology; these psychologists opened up a new domain of development. As a result of their work, psychologists started looking at reading and writing not only as abilities that should be formally instructed, but also as a kind of knowledge that undergoes reorganizational processes with age and experience, similar to wh at happens in other domains of development such as physical, linguistic, or mathematical knowledge.