Friday, July 21, 2006

insider and outsider blog readers

In response to "blogging and the isi," Carol Jago writes that the "question that no one can answer [right now] is the extent to which this community of writers will stay engaged in the blog."

Kids like to blog because it give them a "chance to say what's on their minds in a private/ public space" Carol continues, but of course the experience of blogging is likely to be quite different for a "community of writers" that's made up of adult teachers.

And yes, I agree that using blogs in the way I've been suggesting in my past few emails is quite different from the norm. The blog would be a group blog rather than an individually hosted site, for one thing, and the purpose would not be for teachers to "say what's on their minds" but rather to provide a public space for those 'good noticings,' those 'electronic expressions of appreciation' that we so rarely receive as teachers, and that we so rarely provide to our colleagues.

So why do this electronically rather than simply stopping a colleague in the hall and giving him or her a compliment? Here I'd appeal to my own recent experience as a blogger. The fact that it's more public than a spoken comment would be, and the curious fact that it could be read by others not connected to or knowledgeable about the school serving as the blogsite host, brings an heightened consciousness to what one writes. Carol's response to ""blogging and the isi" is a case in point. The primary audience for this posting was the 20 teachers who made up this summer's 2006 invitational Summer Institute (ISI 06). This group would read this blog as a way of re-capturing the felt sense of that penultimate day of the summer program, a felt sense that JoAnn Freda's scribe notes are particularly effective in capturing.

But there is that larger audience, including Carol Jago, reading this blog entry from France, that will naturally read this blog for other purposes, making sense of it in relation to their own interests and concerns.

I would argue that it 'does a writer good' to know that both these different audiences are 'out there' capable of reading what's been written, if it's expressed as well as JoAnn's scribe notes are expressed, and capable of perhaps responding to what's been said. I think this double audience of 'insider' and 'outsider' readers has the capacity to nudge us toward making our particular 'local' observations more global, towards seeing and perhaps commenting on what might be generalizable to other school settings. Might this creative tension between writing for both insider and outsider audiences will make us, as teachers, feel we are participating in that sort of speculation/reflection that leads to genuine and lasting educational change?

"All politics is local," the expression has it. Might the same be true for genuine educational change, and isn't it about time we got this conversation going?

1 comment:

grant said...

From my individual perspective I will touch upon the wider question that Carol Jago poses--"what is the extent to which this community of writers will stay engaged in the blog?"
Like so many other things, the practice of blogging is proscribed by available time. People with the time to do so will blog, and those without will "let it slide."
Blogging must also deliver some kind of a reward: people who like to write will find blogging intrinsically rewarding. Those who are deeply interested in the content of the blog (and this means the blog will have to compete with all other media) will also read and perhaps add to the blog. I predict about a 75% or more drop-out rate in any blog community of writers, since there is so much competition for available time and mental energy.
In my own case, I can hit the blogs about once every ten days, realistically. I consider this roughly average. Putting some time between viewings allows blog entries to accumulate and so it is more efficient. I find blogging rewarding both because I like to read the content and because I like to write.
I am an "inside voice" for ISI 06, and and outside voice for such blogs as "Gagdad bob's" (if you haven't seen this blog type the name into the google search engine and get ready for a rich experience--Mr. Gagdad Bob writes extremely well).
The final question, as to whether blogs "do" anything that affects the real world, I think that they do but in a subtle and very gradual way, like any other media. Attitude is everything in this world--people make decisions based on their attitudes. Reading blogs might influence a reader's mind like any other media, although it is questionably less potent than audio-visual stimuli like television, movies, and music.