Nov 20, 2013

Please, Don’t Ruin Blogging

My students blog. Some with fervor, some reluctantly. It’s an attempt to find a means of authentic writing. Blogging works for me because it ties to the idea of writing for the sake of writing, not the sake of school.

This is my plea, please, don’t ruin blogging.

A teacher who has students write online on given topics for marks is not blogging. I’m not suggesting you don’t have your reasons for having a student do that, though I can’t think of any engaging reasons off the top of my head, please don’t call it a blog. Call it an online response. Or schlog (school log). Or make up a word with only one vowel, which seems to be the trend, like Tretr. But please don’t call it blogging.

Because it’s not that.

Blogging is an authentic means of communicating self to a community of readers that is developed organically.

That’s why I fear the use of blogging in a class. It can be an opportunity for a person to find their voice, their feet, and their tribe. If it is ruined by too much school (i.e. pre-determined topics, fixed criteria, marked, etc.) then we’ll have ruined another form of writing. Students will be so much more reluctant to give it a try on their own. They won’t understand that they have a voice to share with the world. They’ll think the only people who blog are in school. And the only people who read blogs are teachers.

Instead, I think blogging is personal. It is an opportunity to capture thoughts, feelings, analysis, around a specific idea that the writer chooses. I think a successful blogger is able to capture a reader’s interest and deliver interesting and engaging insights. Most blogs have a specific, personal and important niche market.

As for evaluation, the market determines the quality of the blog, not a solitary evaluator. The number of visitors, the comments, the feedback, retweets, are the evaluation of the blog.

If I’m not able to get people to read my posts, then I’m doing something wrong. It’s a balance between successful marketing, but also providing a quality product. I have to give readers a reason to read. If my only reader (the teacher) “has” to read, then what impetus do I have for producing original, interesting content?

According to Kelly Gallagher in his book, Readicide, by succumbing to schoolification we are killing/we have killed reading. Especially reading that requires us to wade through dense, poetic language.

Let’s not do the same to a writing form that allows for personalization. A writing form that democratizes media, opinion, analysis and insight. A writing form that doesn’t fit into a hamburger worksheet.

Please, don’t ruin blogging.

1 Comment

  • Hi Scott,

    Great blog!

    Some thoughts that came to mind…

    If a student is given a prompt by a teacher, why can’t their response be “an authentic means of communicating self”? Is it because they didn’t initiate the idea? I see this as an opportunity to teach students a form of communication, which, once they learn it, they might actually initiate and share their own ideas without prompting. There is no doubt that some kids might become more reluctant to blog (i.e. write) on their own if they are being forced to at school but the same thing could be said for students who study music, math, art, French, phys-ed, etc. Will students who are forced to study math in school not pursue math-related activities outside of school? A lot depends on how we, as teachers, approach the subject matter.

    Don’t worry, Scott, I won’t ruin blogging.

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