Why do I blog? This was a question I found myself thinking about over lunch with a colleague from another school a few weeks ago. Between mouthfuls (of very fine cuisine, I certainly now have food-envy of this particular establishment) I managed to come up with a few reasons. However, since then I have thought more and feel that there are two main motivations:
- I do it purely as a way to distil my thoughts and therefore reflect on a matter I have been pondering. Consequently I couldn’t give two hoots if anyone reads the posts or not. The process of jotting down ideas, typing them up, re-reading and editing the content has really helped me to gain clarity over aspects of my job and role within education. In fact some of my best ideas have been left on the “cutting room floor” and not actually made it into the published post. Yet they have profoundly changed the way I approach a problem (should that be “opportunity”?) or task.
- Despite not minding if anyone actually reads the posts I publish them so that they have, at the very least, the potential to give back to the network of teachers on social media. The number of brilliant blogs or tweets I read per day is phenomenal and they directly improve my ability to do my job. Therefore if I can give anything back, no matter how big or small, I will be doing my bit. As the Beatles sang “in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” I doubt very much that anything I write will revolutionise education or give the reader a eureka moment, however, if they help even a yocto-amount I would be glad to be a part of the thriving online education community.
Recently I read an excellent post from Mark Anderson, aka @ICTEvangelist, discussing his fears for teachers who blog. Although I have not had the good fortune to meet him in person it is clear from Mark’s online output that he is a highly accomplished and inspirational educator. Therefore his post shook me from my blogging-stupor and opened my eyes to some digital etiquette I had not considered properly. He has five big worries and offers clear advice on how to overcome these challenges when writing a blog. Worries number one and four do not apply to me and never have; despite what you might hear I can be quite sensible! I do not think I would ever be carried away when writing a post, in fact by the time I have re-read and proofed a post there is very little chance of me being controversial. I also sometimes encourage colleagues to read them, one in particular is often displeased with the banality of the posts. And I do not include pictures of students for innumerable reasons. However, at the time of writing the first draft of this post I was guilty of worries two, three and, by consequence, five.
After the first read of Mark’s post I am ashamed to admit I thought “gosh, how impractical, I would never have time to do that” and promptly closed my browser; classic case of cognitive dissonance. It also made me question why I used images in my work; often I feel it livens the post up a bit and distracts from the insipidity. However, do I really need a copyrighted and uncredited picture of Scarlett Johansson in a post about assemblies? Although there might be some that argue a whole-hearted yes to this rhetorical question I knew Mark was right and using incorrectly sourced images was not good form. In fact it is exactly the kind of detail that I ruthlessly pick up on with students. Thus, with the benefit of thinking through the issue, I was driven to change my ways. As I make my second, third and subsequent edits to this post I am pleased to say that all my old blogs have been changed, images replaced and credit given. This even includes changing my beloved, but copyrighted, Mr Happy profile picture on Twitter. Having finished I genuinely think it was worth the time and effort, especially as I have quite a limited back catalogue so it was not exactly a brobdingnagian task. If you ever did find yourself glancing through my old posts and notice that they do not conform to the rules please tell me, it might take me a while but I will try to make the necessary changes.
Header image taken by and modified by Michael Smyth, 2013.