Gunther Kress argues for a radical reappraisal of the phenomenon of literacy, and hence for a profound shift in educational practice. Through close attention to the variety of objects which children constantly produce (drawings, cuttings-out, 'writings' and collages), Kress suggests a set of principles which reveal the underlying coherence of children's actions; actions which allow us to connect them with attempts to make meaning before they acquire language and writing.
This book provides fundamental challenges to commonly held assumptions about both language and literacy, thought and action. It places these challenges within the context of speculation about the abilities and dispositions essential for children as young adults, and calls for the radical decentring of language in educational theory and practice.
'A call for a fundamental change in education. Provocatively, he defines school as a place where teachers insist the world can only be known through the abstractions of written language. His book shows the fascinating ways in which children express and exchange meaning on their progress to literacy.' - New Scientist
'Before Writing has radical implications both for linguistic theory and for educational practice. It calls into question the accepted focus on written language as a privileged system of representation.' - Journal of Sociolinguistics