When I talk about blogging at conferences and district staff developments, I usually include a list of quotes from teachers about how their students are literally begging them for writing assignments — how students are writing in their blogs, even if there isn’t an assignment. It’s especially revealing, I think, to see a teacher, who has never really enjoyed writing, admit that blogging can be satisfying, as Danita Russell of rural
Currituck Lee County, says in last night’s Random Ramblings.
I realized something today that was a breakthrough, if you will. I was a math and music person all through school. Hated to write and hated English (when I was in school it was not called Language Arts – I went to school a very long time ago), but I did well. I donâ€™t know if it was out of shear determination or fear of my parents (Bâ€™s were not acceptable). Now, with my blog, Iâ€™m beginning to enjoy writing. I donâ€™t know if anyone ever reads this thing, but I do enjoy writing it. Lightning strike me, I canâ€™t believe I just wrote that I enjoy writing! But, itâ€™s true. Maybe if blogs had been around when I was growing up, I might have been a language arts teacher instead of a math teacher. Nah – donâ€™t see that happening. This must be what the kids feel, too. What an accomplishment for the education system!
So what’s different? Why is writing so hard or unenjoyable, but blogging is something that many people want to do? I think that when students are given an assignment to blog, it stops being a writing assignment, and instead, it becomes a communication assignment. When students blog, they are not merely writing to the teacher, trying to comply with some rubric that their text will be measured against. That’s engineering, and it’s no fun because what you are engineering will not be used by anyone.
However, when students (and teachers) blog, they know that what their are writing is going to be read by an authentic audience, if only their classmates. And they know that their audience will be responding in some way to what they are writing. That’s communicating, and I believe that humans have an intrinsic need to communicate — to influence other people.
It’s what’s so disempowering about traditional teaching. We religate the learner to their seats, where they are urged to be vessels, not communicators.
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