Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why don't you blog?

A few weeks ago a student asked me a question so good I had no response: "Why don't you blog? Could you?" This request really struck me for a couple of reasons: 1. She's right. If we're assigning blogs we should blog...right? 2. Technically, I do (emphasis on 'technically'). I have this blog, I post entries several times a week on my blogs for Ren/Ref Lit and Place Matters. But that, I knew, was not what she was after.

Why is it that faculty don't blog more about the readings we assign? On the one hand, it is a practical matter. Prepping for this class, grading those papers, drafting that assignment....we get so bogged down in the technicalities of "professing" that we forget to be readers. On the other hand, it is a new way of thinking about oneself in a classroom--as a reader right there along with our students. That said, I have concerns about my own readerly impressions being taken as gospel (can you tell we've been reading Martin Luther recently?). There are ways around this, of course--asking questions, offering different interpretations, including caveats--but these moves ostensibly transform reader into facilitator and remove the "purity" of the immediate response. We return to the role of professor...but maybe that's the point. Are our students ever just readers? The blog posts they write are just as implicated in ideas about blog-readers and audience as ours may be. And, of course, good blog posts step outside the bounds of the self, reaching to communities of other reader/writer/bloggers.

This reminds me, too, of a point made by John Seely Brown at the SoTL conference at IUSB yesterday: that we need to make the process and practice of our profession/discipline available to students. Perhaps blogs are one way of doing that. Another thing to add to the list...