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This is an expanded version of a print article that appeared in the refereed journal, Visible Language, 28.2, Spring 1994, pp. 134 - 161. © 1994, 1996 by Gerald Grow.
Key words: writing, visual thinking, visual thinkers, orality, literacy, teaching writing, basic writers, verbal bias of schooling, learning style discrimination.
Some people produce characteristic, recurring writing problems as a result of inappropriately applying visual thinking to writing. This paper proposes that the writing problems of such visual thinkers derive from three factors:
Table 1 summarizes
the writing problems of visual thinkers. Visual thinkers have
difficulty organizing expository prose because their preferred
mode of thought is fundamentally different from the organization
of expository prose. Prose is organized by story, focus, sequence,
drama, and analysis -- none of which is native to the visual
thinker. The writing of a visual thinker is like a map of all
the possibilities; a verbal thinker writes like a guided tour.
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Table 1: Writing Problems of Visual Thinkers
I. The Lack of Words
Absence of Analysis
Words as Labels of Unseen Pictures
Fear of Words
Stacking, Packing, and Enfolding Words
Difficulty with Description
II. Problems of Writing in Sequence
Importance of Sequence
Difficulty with Transitions
Overuse of To Be
III. Problems of Context
Forest and Trees
Shaughnessy and "Basic Writers"
Orality, Literacy, and Visual Thinking
Implications for Research
Varieties of Visual Thinking
Varieties of Writing
Verbal Bias of Schooling
Verbal Thought Reconsidered
Limitations of the Study
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