Time to Write

The Influence of Time and Culture on Learning to Write

By John Sylvester Lofty

Series: SUNY series, Literacy, Culture, and Learning: Theory and Practice
Paperback : 9780791409022, 292 pages, July 1992
Hardcover : 9780791409015, 292 pages, July 1992

Table of contents




1. Ways with Lobsters

2. Work on the Island

3. Fay: Time on the Threshold of Writing

4. Mark: Writing in Grade Six

5. Christie: Writing and the Future

6. Timescapes for Literacy

7. Field Notes: Toward the Future

Appendix Approach: Mapping the Timescapes of Literacy





Teaching on an island off the Maine coast, John Sylvester Lofty encountered students whose resistance to writing was grounded in the tension between time values derived from the changing movements of sun, season, and tide, and the time values of school regulated by the measures of clock and schedule. In this graceful account of his experiences, Lofty uses the voices and writings of students in grades one, two, six, and twelve to dramatize students' encounters with the school-based cultures of time and literacy. Against the world of the clock and bell, he places the world of the lobster fisher, the clam digger, the farmer, the cook, the scientist, and the writer—people for whom the time to do things evolves from the nature of the task. Drawing on scholarship in language education, social anthropology, and the philosophy of time, Lofty challenges our industrialized models of schooling and critiques the time order of process oriented writing instruction.

John Sylvester Lofty is Assistant Professor of English Education at the University of New Hampshire.


"In the world of language education, there emerge few books that have an immediate and telling message—books that startle by the very simplicity and obviousness of what they say. John Lofty has given us just such a volume. One could see the book as another 'critical' attack on schools as they are presently constituted; like Shaughnessy and Heath, Lofty is above that easy answer, and like them he writes out of love for all those he describes. Awareness of the conflict is a first step towards the offering of alternatives—the possibility of dialogue between school and community, between teacher and student, that should, I think, be the aim of any educational endeavor. " — Alan C. Purves, Center for Writing and Literacy, SUNY-Albany