Friday, November 17, 2006

why blogging could make me a better person

I'm back after a little hiatus. I could make some excuses for why I haven't been writing much lately, but we've all been busy, haven't we? In fact, some of the busiest people I know are making time for blogging on a regular basis, so that excuse...well, it really doesn't work.

Really, it doesn't.

So I've been reflecting on what this has been a hard habit for me to embrace. I journal faithfully. Virtually, all of my scholarly work is grounded in exploratory composing (talk, writing, visualizing). I write for external audiences. So why hasn't blogging become a part of my life?

I'm writing from the National Writing Project conference (http://www.writingproject.org --sorry, though I feel ever so cool for knowing how to hyperlink, I haven't figured out how to make it work in safari yet, and I'm blogging this on my mac). Yesterday, I presented with Bud Hunt (see budtheteacher link in my blogroll to the left). Bud and I have been working together for about 8 years now, and we're still trying to save the world. I believe teacher research is the answer, he believes technology is the answer, we both *know* that the writing project is the answer, and yesterday, we talked about the intersection among all of those things. At the moment, we're also planning a CSU Writing Project event (http://www.csuwp.blogspot.com) that will explore them in more detail. In the process of this, our conversations have been pushing me toward the above questions about blogging as did a conversation Bud and I had yesterday with one of our roundtable participants who blogs religiously.

In fact, there was a really odd moment during our session when Bud was preaching it, and he looked to his right and realized (out loud), "Hey, how are ya, Paul?," like he was talking to an old friend that he'd somehow never met. Bud went on to explain that he "knew" Paul Allison from the New York City Writing Project, but only cybernetically. Then, he talked in detail about how Paul's online work with his students had influenced his (Bud's) thinking. In other words, though he and Paul had never met, they clearly knew one another in a way that is pretty substantive, yet very rare, in education. Bud had been "inside" Paul's head *and* his classroom, and now, it seemed only incidentally handy that they were meeting face-to-face.

Well, the three of us stayed after the session and talked about, among other things, the impulse toward blogging that heretofore has struck me rather like the motivation for flossing. You know, one of those habits you know you'd pick up if you were a better person, especially because someone really smart like your dentist says you ought to. And so you floss for a couple of weeks after your check-up until the little plastic box conveniently gets shoved to the back of the drawer so you don't have to think about it any more.

But there's been a confluence of events now, so I don't know that I can so easily forget about blogging. First, Bud said that he wants more people to blog not so much because of what it can do for the blogger but what it can do for the "blogee." He said something along the lines of this: "I want you to blog because I'm selfish. I want to know what you're thinking, and I don't want to wait until the next time I see you or the next time you publish to do so." He assures me that other people feel the same, not about my thinking in particular, but about thinking, period.

Secondly, Bud's clearly on to something when it comes to networking. Do you know how many people have come up to him in the course of two days and said, "Hey, you're Bud the teacher, aren't you? I really like your blog." Now, I admit--at first I thought that was a tad bit creepy, but then, some pretty interesting conversation typically and immediately ensued. So maybe blogging, like journaling, is a kind of knowledge-in-progress, except with a potential audience who could shape your thinking attached.

And the coup d'etat was NWP Director Richard Sterling's comment this morning that "new media is the new democracy and therefore an instrument of change."

Knowledge-in-progress, networking, and democracy as an instrument of change. Now that's something that will get me blogging...and maybe, just maybe, make me a better person all at the same time.

3 comments:

Donna said...

Cindy - it's great to meet you! You're the first person to visit my blog that I know of and you're helping me learn blog etiquette – if there is such a thing. Each entry needs to have enough back story to help new readers. Linda is a clinical professor at Colorado University and aside from you, my only reader. She’s working with me in my classroom as part of a masters program. I started my blog as a way to journal for her class and because Bud got me excited about blogging too. You’re right – visiting other blogs is important but it makes me rethink this writing space. It’s not personal – it’s not even a conversation between two. For the first time, I’m aware of audience. This is a big idea for me. And, I have less control over the audience than I ever have in the past. You know, usually I have a specific audience to write to. I guess the one thing I do know is that only people interested in pedagogy will stop by but man, that’s a broad group of folks. I know, I’m using your space to think this through but it’s new. I’m excited.
Oh, I peaked into your student blogs too – didn’t have time to comment there but it looks like some great ideas are brewing in their blogs. I’m planning to make my first student blog attempt later this week. I’m sure I’ll revisit your space for tips.

Donna said...

Oh - I forgot to explain the One Sentence Intervention. It comes from Jim Fay - Love and Logic. He believes that noticing things about students in a nonjudgemental way (neither positive or negative judgement) will help educators and parents connect with children in meaningful ways. The idea is to pick a troublesome student and say "I've noticed..." and leave it at that. I tried it - well, you read about my experience. I like it.

Jo McLeay said...

Hi Cindy, I got here trough Bud the teacher. It great that you met Paul Allison. Both he and Bud are bloggers that I read and listen to all the time. I get so many ideas and you have some interesting conversation happening here as well. I hope you continue writing. Bloging is the best professional devlopment that i have ever participated in I reckon.
Jo