Documentation VI: Prewriting Alphabet, Exergue and Diary
- Mary Kelly -
The formative phase in which the child began to read and write was documented over a period of eighteen months, from January, 1977, to April, 1978. During this time (age 3.5-4.8), he started to identify certain letter shapes and map out a system of markings related to the traditional alphabet. Notations were made of his observations following “ABC sessions” (i.e. reading from favourite alphabet books as part of the bed-time story repertoire) and the documentation was concluded when he began to write his own name. At the time he entered infants’ school, an event which as equally significant for the mother because the learning process, once assumed to be a “private” discourse, was then clearly seen to be determined by an institutional context.
The documentation is inscribed on slates and set out in chronological order. Each inscription is divided into three registers (analogous to the Rosetta Stone) with the child’s “hieroglyphic” letter-shapes (prewriting alphabet) in the upper portion; the mother’s print-script commentary (exergue) in the middle section and her type-script narrative (diary) in the lower part.