In “Writing as a Mode of Learning,” Janet Emig takes a rather unique stand both in how she views writing and in how she defines it as a learning process. She describes writing as heuristic, and by that, it seems she is praising writing because it is a continuous learning process, with unending lessons to be learned through trial and error. She defines writing as “originating and creating a unique verbal construct that is graphically recorded” (123) which is sort of a really nerdy way of explaining that what makes writing so unique as a process is how it engages the writer is a combination of methods and processes that no other mode of learning does.
I found the section where Emig explained the three ways in which we learn–enactive, iconic, and symbolic–of particular interest because Ican’t recall ever hearing writing as a process explained as utelizing on three methods of learning. Even just the definition, “the symbolic transformation of experience through the specific symbols system of verbal language is shaped into an icon (the graphic product) by the enactive hand” (124) made me smile because even though I could understand the claim being made, it took several times of reading this definition to understand what the words literally meat. Essentially, Emig was working the symbolic processes rather hard.
The only draw back to this article was that while Emig had this innovative and discriptive language to describe writing, how it works, and why we should value it so much as a learning process, the list of differences between writing and talking felt forced at times. It seemed like these differences lacked strength and reasoning, and therefore, instead of strengthening her claims, they took away from them.
In #1, she claims that writing is learned behavior, but talking is natural. I think that both writing and talking are learned behavior, and while verbal language may be a very intricate part of our world from the very onset of life, it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily innate. In #6, Emig claims that writing must create context while talking leans on the environment. Again, I feel that both writing and talking must create context in order to be understood. The difference is much of that context is already present when the speaker is engaged with someone familiar or existing in a familiar environment. In #7, she claims that when writing, the audience is not present, but when talking the audience is usually present. This statement is true in the literal sense wherein most of us do not have conversations out loud, by ourselves, but it is also true that one of the basic fundamentals of successful writing, both inside and outside of acadamia is the ability to guage one’s audience and to successfully write with said audience in mind. I genuinely enjoyed this article, and I certainly don’t mean to degrade it, but I feel that writing as a process and learning strategy has plenty of merit without our needing to downplay verbal communication.