Writing in the 21st century – global educational discourses about writing

Submitted by: Eva Lindgren
Abstract: Over the past few decades literacy in people’s everyday life has transformed from reading of printed sources, such as books, papers and magazines to writing in digital media. An increased focus on writing for a variety of purposes, to communicate, respond or discuss on social media, to document repairs on a car, or write a petition for the local policy makers all require different writing skills. Becoming a writer not only requires knowledge and practise but perhaps most importantly it requires voice. In this paper I move beyond the national contexts and discuss how education globally views writing, i.e what discourses there are about writing per se and the purposes of writing and writing education. Educational documents produced by the key international literacy sponsors the UN, OECD and the EU are analysed using a discourse analytical approach. The starting point for the analysis is Ivanič (2004, 2017) framework of discourses of writing, with a particular focus on voice and participation in society. The analysis was conducted in several steps including careful selection and close reading. Preliminary results show an emphasis on writing as a social practice, in particular writing for work purposes, writing as a skill and writing to enhance life chances. Discourses that support writing for participation in society through making ones voice heard is rare, implicating potential difficulties for the fostering of democratic citizens and for all children (and adults) to acquire the necessary tools to fully practice their freedom of speech and respond to others' view-points.