Take a look at the comments on the C-Net article on blogs in schools and you’ll understand why we need, um, blogs in schools:
Blogs are NOT a valid school subject. Blogs are a sloppy
communications technique, rarely containing anything really
worth while, and rank just one notch above text messaging on
cell phones. We’ve got kids who can’t add, can’t read, and can’t
write in real sentences, and wouldn’t know a verb if it bit them.
There’s where the real education effort needs to be placed. Sure,
that’s not ‘fun’, and kids do want to play rather than learn, and
teachers seem to go out of their way to avoid being actual
Sorry folks, but US kids need real help, not junk like this teacher
is peddling. As noted, “… Fisher is among a small but growing
number of teachers and professors experimenting with
classroom blogs….” And maybe that defines the real situation.
The kids are experiments in arcane educational techniques by
educators more interested in notoriety than success, and where
failure is basically irrelevant.
Where to begin.
1. Blogs are not a subject. They’re a learning tool that can be used in any subject as a way to synthesize, think and write critically, and reflect. In addition, blogging teaches deep reading, something that the author of the comment obviously didn’t do with the article.
2. Blogging is inherently not a sloppy communications technique, and blogs done well contain worthwhile content because they demand the author/blogger articulate a point of view that is subject to the review and response of a real audience.
3. Blogging is not necessarily fun. If done well, it’s work. Clarence’s students, who are being taken to task, might be having fun in the process of blogging, but they’re also using their brains in creative and expansive ways. Funny that the author of the comment is doing so as well but just doesn’t recognize it.
4. Clarence, if you read this, understand that you are not peddling junk. You are peddling reality. The fact that you have your kids blogging has nothing to do with the problems they may have in math or other subjects. If anything, you are giving them an opportunity to remediate the problems they have by engaging them in some real conversation and thoughtful learning practice.
5. Yep, we’re all blogging for the fame. We obviously don’t care what happens to our students, and if they fail, so what? There will be a new “new thing” coming down the road tomorrow that we can hitch our reputations to. God forbid we have educators who are dissatisfied with the status quo and act to change it.
And the biggest irony is the comment comes from an “educator” who wants to stick with a system that he admits is “getting stomped in education.” I can assure you, blogs haven’t been around long enough to bring that about.
Look, blogs and blogging are not a panacea for a system that by many accounts has not been able to keep pace. They are not going to solve the inequities inherent in our educational system, nor are they going to change much of anything without teachers that sincerely want their students to learn. But in the hands of thoughtful practitioners, blogs have great potential to teach our students to think and learn and create work subject to higher standards than they do right now.
Clarence Fisher says
I hadn’t seen the comments posted on the article until I recieved an email about them late last night.
I found them interesting. As you mentioned; the author of these comments is using many of the processes of synthesis and evaluation that we want to teach our kids, yet he must feel they are not capeable of this same process. I also felt one of the most glaring troubles I had with this post was that the author says U.S. (and Canadian) schools are not fullfilling a mandate for today’s society yet he refuses to look at what can be done differently.
My psyche is not injured.
One of the “troubles” that many teachers have with blogging is that it opens their classrooms, and the voices of their kids, up the world. Comments like this show us all that we need to be thick – skinned about trying to change things.
It was also interesting that when I shared this article with my kids yesterday and the links that had been posted to their blogs, they were amazed that other people would be so interested in some of these. We also looked at some of the comments that people had been leaving on their blogs since they found them through this article and they were shocked. One of my students is quite a talented hockey player and had posted about his love for this sport previously. Yesterday he had a comment on his blog from someone who used to work with the National Hockey League Player’s Association. You don’t find a connection like that turning in papers that sit on my desk.
As always, things like this show us all that we just have more work to do.