How much of yourself do you put in your blog? If it is something that students are going to peruse, or, in my case, something I link to from my class blogs, then there is open invitation for students to interact with it.
I was reading Canadian musician Matthew Good’s blog the other day. He is undergoing a complete overhaul of his blog- taking out many refs to his own life and self, and has decided to write from now on about politics and a bit on touring life. As someone who is in the public eye, Good seems to be pulling his ‘self’ out of that spotlight. Perhaps he has run up against the idea of putting too much of ‘himself’ out there, and now finds himself left with not a lot of ‘self’ left. The private has become public.
This is one of the many anti-blog sentiments I have heard expressed by teachers at conferences and around meeting tables. Our students seem to have a propensity, or should I say desire, for putting themselves out there; this new generation seems to have an innate need for exposure and, possibly, recognition.
I’ll be honest here: I share that desire. The last while I have gotten bogged down in checking my blog stats and my flickr stats…seeing how popular my postings or my photos are instead of merely enjoying the medium. I have also heavily censored myself for fear of losing readers, most of whom I have never met and a good portion of whom do not really interact on this blogspace. I feel the confines of a pro-d blog. Walking into it I shed my personal self. I put on my ‘business clothes’ attitude and sever bonds with the personal side (by the way, I don’t own a suit, and I think whoever invented them never wore one…).
I have friends who complain about that disconnect. One friend told me recently that he checks my blog everyday, to which I responded something akin to ‘wow, you must fall asleep reading all that educational stuff’…he said he didn’t read the articles, he just checked the blog… I have other friends who are into blogging but are strangely absent when it comes to reading or interacting with my blog.
Doesn’t this feel strange to you? Am I the only one who is chaffing at the self censorship that so-called ‘professional’ blogs and bloggers impose? Are you sick of me ranting about this yet(it seems to be a recurrent theme these last several entries…)?
When I enter my school or my classroom I do not don the clothes and muted personal life of the ‘professional’. I do, more than likely, change gears into something akin to professionalism, but I try to inject myself into my classroom. There is such a thing as professional distance (or something like that), but I feel that in my field, that distance is one of respect. I do not merge and become another student in the classroom. There is a reason why I stand at the front (or sit on a desk).
I have a few students who love to ask personal questions…important questions. Sometimes, I get that suspicion that they are trying to put me off topic; sometimes I don’t rise to that bait, but sometimes, I just have to believe they truly want to talk about important things.
Scenario: discussing Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein…last night’s reading….a question pops up in class: “Mr. Nelson….how do you know when you are in love?”
I ask you, which is more important for my students: a discussion on a novel, or talking about one of the most important things in life? I chose the latter, and I often will if I sense the question is coming from a place of honest seeking, but I always try to return to what is ‘on the agenda’.
This blog was started with an agenda. It had a purpose, and I still promote ‘purposeful blogging’ as opposed to ‘cat blogs’, but lately I have been reading ‘cat blogs’ about people I care about: Former students and friends. Lately I haven’t been reading the educational posts in my bloglines account. I just skip to that bottom folder that is subtlety marked ‘personal’.
Lately, I have been reading David Copperfield in my spare time and writing poetry with my students, and spending more time on flickr then on any blog.
Lately, I have been talking with students about love and life (as well as covering curriculum), and taking pictures at a concert that some former students of mine played at.
Lately, I have been spending time taking pictures of people instead of things. Does this signify a shift in what I value?
Perhaps my recent activities have a lot to do with that chaffing disconnect of professionalism. Perhaps it also has a lot to do with where I am at in my life journey. My wife and I are expecting our second child any day now. Translation: I don’t really think a lot about education right now.
My apologies for this long rambling post. How did I do, Andrew?