‘How can I know what I think until I see what I say?’ EM Forster
I’ve always thought that, as a teacher and a professional, it was not merely my right to speak up about educational matters but my duty. When I started Blogging a year ago it was to share things I was trying in class with a wider audience and to attempt to communicate with educators who, perhaps, felt the same way about the way things were changing. Education is in a constant state of change in Scotland – and, seemingly many countries. It is not a new thing. However, what has changed is the ability for teachers to share these discussions with a wider audience through social media. I chose Blogging because I wanted to write.
Blogging does allow you to develop a thought, into a point, into a discussion. The disorganised thoughts flying around my mind during the week now find somewhere to go, instead of post-it it notes which get lost. When I write my blog posts I start by splattering any thoughts in no particular order, a sort of stream of consciousness. But when I see those disorganised thoughts I can ‘ see what I say’ and edit accordingly.. This has made me a better writer and, thus, a better teacher of writing. I can more understand the practical difficulties in structuring an argument, or reflecting some thoughts; something I ask my students to do all of the time. It also allows me to reflect on things I thought six months ago and adapt or even disagree with now.
And I want people to read my blog too. It is no vanity project (or is every Blog a vanity project? Discuss.) I think I have something to say but what good is writing without a reader. It is no diary, no keeper of secret thoughts. There is nothing more public and the Internet has become the ultimate leveller for the unpublished writer. I read other Blogs to find inspirational ideas, great thoughts and wonderful writing. And, as I do in school every day of my life, I look for those who set high standards and attempt to emulate them. Why settle for second best? Even though I often fail to live up to that standard.
Before blogging I walked about with an almost constant niggling doubt about what I was trying to achieve in Education. There are as many great things which I felt were not being celebrated in schools as there are bad ideas. I questioned everything, as I try to encourage my students to do, but had no focus, no burning pyre to get rid of those ideas. My Blog has given me somewhere to distribute the detritus of my everyday thoughts. Some of them I wish I’d spent more time on. Some of them I’m every proud of. But I wouldn’t change any of them now. A year of Blogging reflects my development as a teacher but also as a thinker. And that can’t be a bad thing.
There will be those of you who are very Blog and Twitter savvy who believe there are too many of us out there gassing on about our opinions. However, I want to be controversial here and say that, in Scotland at least, there are not enough. Social media has opened up a world once closed to us. A country full of great educators with things to say. I suggest that there is not enough discussion going on out there and certainly not enough relevant literature to inform, inspire and explain the changes occurring in Scottish Education.
Too many people who have great ideas often become stifled by school structures and the intimidating hugeness of it all. We are professionals. We are not fools. We can discuss the world of education in a positive and supportive, if often critical, eye without any of it becoming personal. You are a teacher. You have great things to say. Share them. Get blogging!