Teaching blogs…

I am glad to have found another educator’s initial reactions to their introduction of blog tech. Marshall McLuhan’s reflections on introducing the blog were very insightful. I guess ‘misery loves company,’ but it is also encouraging to see that this is not a ‘universally’ smooth transition. In retrospect, there were definite improvements I could’ve made in my initial offering of the blog format, but I find I am learning more from another’s recorded experience and adding it to my own reflective learning…

I went home thinking that the first day of blogging … well – the introduction to blogging – was not as successful as I’d hoped it would be. Here I was trying to do something new, to get away from the traditional approach to writing and literacy, and my students seemed to cling tenaciously to the old ways. Why? Why were they asking all these questions? Wasn’t it exciting to find out that you’re getting your own blog, that you’ll have more freedom as a writer?

And then it hit me – we do this to them. They are asking these questions because this is what we do to kids – we train them to ask these questions. We make learning feel like deadlines and paragraphs and constant evaluation. In fact, most teachers think that kids who ask these questions are conscientious and diligent. This is the standard that we ourselves set and they learn it very well. They learn to follow our rules. (a href= “http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2005/07/25/evaluation/”> “Adopted Voices,” accessed Nov.4,05)

Making ‘learning feel like deadlines and paragraphs and constant evaluation”. Wow…this is hard hitting. I agree that we have ingrained in students this feeling that learning must fit into a box that, as McLuhan states, we have created.
No wonder our students feel angst when they enter into a ‘progressive’ classroom in which the teacher is trying to push the boundaries…McLuhan’s is great insight.

What have I learned from this? I’ve learned that doing new things is often challenging not because of uncooperative school boards or reluctant administrators but because by the time our students are ready to enter high school, they have learned so much from our own ways of teaching that they often recite our mantra back to us. When they do, when they use their adopted voices, we often confuse their questions about length and deadlines with “evidence of learning.?(a href= “http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2005/07/25/evaluation/”> “Adopted Voices,” accessed Nov.4,05)

Wow. I need some time to process this one. Is this teaching as Orwellian programming; the ‘education’ Bradbury speaks of in Fahrenheit 451 ? Is it merely social programming so we teach students our version of success…’Mantra’ what a powerful word to use! The idea of ‘adopted voices’ speaks volumes as well…are we empowering students to speak for themselves, or have we forced students to ‘adopt’ our ideas, our voice….this is tough stuff….A kind of voice ‘colonizing’ where we subject our students to the will of the greater educational institution….’Metropolis’ all over again…


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