Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why I Require My Students to Blog

In a perfect world children would have access to all information, tools to create whatever their hearts desire, and the time to explore every whim and fancy that takes them. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. Adults have to make choices about what children must learn and (very often) how they will learn it. Because of this, I require my students to blog.

Blogging allows students the opportunity to write to a larger audience. I will not use the word authentic because I believe that students often write for their teachers, which would make that writing authentic to them. I don't want my students writing solely to me, they need to be able to communicate with a much larger, varied audience. I will not be their lifelong interpreter. While there is no guarantee that posting words on the internet will ever garner an audience, I can guarantee that the community of learners in my control will be viewing these writings and (with a bit of coaching/begging) leaving comments that are meant to create conversations.

Conversations are critical to blogging. While there are some who don't mind writing words only they will read, most of us have an inborn desire to have someone respond to our ideas. One-way conversations are an anathema to us whether they are done verbally or in writing. We need the opportunity to share our wants, needs, desires, hopes, dreams, and fears as much as we need the opportunity to have others share them with us. A blog post that doesn't create a conversation is a sad thing indeed.

Students need the opportunity, as well as the time, to develop conversations with their writing. To create online relationships that can enrich both their thoughts and their self esteem. No longer should they be required to languish in unfulfilling relationships created solely because of where they live. Their passions are shared by others who can be reached by carving out spaces online and searching for others doing the same.

As the adult, lead learner if you must, I know these things to be true and because of that, I must require my students to blog!