Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

First Advisor

Sydney Brown

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore how one adult who learned at home under the holistic methods of Charlotte Mason developed as a writer when this model eschews direct instruction in composition. The participant in the study developed exemplary writing skills despite the fact that the teaching methods of the parent did not conform to state standards, nor even to techniques typically accepted as best practices by such organizations as the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). As states across the nation are adopting and implementing the Common Core, which includes many standards that are developmentally inappropriate, this is a timely study that begs a fresh review of how children learn to write.

The researcher used grounded theory (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) to attempt to establish how this student learned to write well without conventional instruction in composition. Theoretical sampling of the student, his mother, and work samples from his school years, as well as a qualitative analysis of documents found on the Ambleside Online website, were used to formulate and propose a theory about elements that contributed to writing development in this context.

The resulting Grounded Theory of Personal Integration consists of three pieces: Immersion, Integration, and Expression. The subject was immersed in quality literature and an atmosphere that valued reading. He read copiously on a wide variety of subjects throughout his school years. Many skills such as spelling, language usage, and vocabulary were absorbed tacitly. The formal study of grammar, which took place in middle and high school, only made explicit the things he already knew implicitly through his reading. There were varying degrees to which he formed relationships with ideas, books, and authors. Some were merely appreciated, while others were fully integrated into his person as he chose to immerse himself further in the work of particular authors. The ideas and writing styles that were integrated emerged naturally in his expression in the form of creative play, oral composition, and, later, written composition.