Original Research

Towards a more explicit writing pedagogy: The complexity of teaching argumentative writing

Jacqui Dornbrack, Kerryn Dixon
Reading & Writing | Vol 5, No 1 | a40 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/rw.v5i1.40 | © 2014 Jacqui Dornbrack, Kerryn Dixon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2013 | Published: 17 April 2014

About the author(s)

Jacqui Dornbrack, Schools Development Unit, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Kerryn Dixon, Foundation Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


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Abstract

Advances in technology, changes in communication practices, and the imperatives of the workplace have led to the repositioning of the role of writing in the global context. This has implications for the teaching of writing in schools. This article focuses on the argumentative essay, which is a high-stakes genre. A sample of work from one Grade 10 student identified as high performing in a township school in Cape Town (South Africa) is analysed. Drawing on the work of Ormerod and Ivanic, who argue that writing practices can be inferred from material artifacts, as well as critical discourse analysis, we show that the argumentative genre is complex, especially for novice first additional language English writers. This complexity is confounded by the conflation of the process and genre approaches in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) document. Based on the analysis we discuss the implications of planning, particularly in relation to thinking and reasoning, the need to read in order to write argument and how social and school capital are insufficient without explicit instruction of the conventions of this complex genre. These findings present some insights into particular input needed to improve writing pedagogy for specific genres.

Keywords

writing pedagogy; argumentative writing; CAPS; process and genre approaches

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