The internet is an amorphous blob of personal space and public domain. Few things can be said to embody both concepts. Upon the internet becoming the internet, conceptual understanding progressed at a snail’s pace because people were asking what the internet can do before asking what the internet was. The same thing is happening to the blogosphere. To steal a concept from Mark O’Donnell: people are asking what blogs can do before asking what blogs really are.
In my opinion, the two ideas, what blogs are and what blogs can do, are inseparable because embedded in the identity of blogging is what it allows you to do. As an anology: what I do is teach, I consider my identity- what I am- a teacher. I am what I do.
Blogs are what they allow people to do.
The following 5 benefits refer to professional articles as a result of blogging rather than a rambling personal diary reminiscent of a Bret Easton Ellis publication- but blogs are also blogs because they allow for this as well…
Blogging holds you accountable. Beliefs, opinions, criticisms, and thoughts need to be organized and presented clearly if one is to convey a message. A thought is forced through a mental pruning algorithm where only the main concepts survive. The writer is forced to ask themselves : “Does this idea add to the argument? Yes.. I’ll Keep it… No… I’ll toss it.” As the thought progresses, it becomes refined and polished. Ann Lemott, in her fantastic book on writing, clearly indicates that a writer often doesn’t know what they are trying to communicate until the project is complete. Said differently, the writing process forces the writer to hash out their idea into a finished product. Writing, as a process, refines ideas.
Blogging helps a teacher find their voice. Many of us call our teaching philosophy our teaching voice. What do you stand for? How is your classroom evidence of this stance? What do you tolerate? What do you expect? How, in your teacher heart-of-hearts, do you believe a child learns?
Just as blogging holds the writer accountable, it also aids in self-discovery. Your identity as a teacher is the cornerstone to your professional career. Writing your thoughts, and further making them public, enables you to communicate what you truly feel is right about teaching. You communicate these identity characteristics not only to the world, but also to yourself.
Writing is teaching. When learning to write, turn to no other resource than Steven Pinker’s The Sense of Style. Pinker imprinted on me an idea bordering on epiphany: authors write to teach. It is so simple yet so powerful. Fiction or nonfiction, at the core of authorship is teaching other people. Check out your favorite blog- why to you return to it? You return to it because you learn things and the blog’s author is a fantastic teacher. To become a better teacher, become a better writer. To practice writing, blog.
Blogging is communicating, and communicating is learning. The core of may educational philosophies is the ability to use language to communicate an idea. Writing provides evidence that a concept is retained and recalled. This translates to a powerful activity for classrooms. While it takes time an energy, incorporating blogging as a student exercise has powerful implications. Whether in a creative writing or advanced molecular genetics course, writing in the form of a blog is a great way to demonstrate learning.
Blogging is considered a pedagogical construct in its own right.
Writing and blogging as an activity has traditionally been seen as an activity to support self-improvement or learning. While it still needs a bit of development, the idea of blogging as a pedagogical construct is emerging. In a VERY readable paper, Mark O’Donnell reviews traditional blogging theory and adds that blogging is beginning to take the shape of a pedagogy on its own. Pedagogical practices are different from teacher to teacher. However, effective communication skills are a central them to all. Blogging and making your thoughts public is a way to strengthen and develop the communication skills central to your pedagogy.
Why do I blog? On a more personal note- I blog because I feel the need to hold myself accountable for what I learn while reading. Writing and synthesizing new ideas gives my excessive reading habit purpose. In other words, I get more from reading when I write. In the end, reading helps my writing and writing strengthens my reading.
Why do you blog?
Thanks for reading!