I don’t think there is any truth. There are only points of view. ~ Allen Ginsberg
Over the weekend the édu flâneuse blog had its first birthday, and so I’ve been reflecting about what a year’s worth of blogging has meant for me.
As a blogger, I am small fry. But with 15,000 views in over 100 countries in a year, this blog is being read. That’s many more views in many more places than I am sure my PhD thesis will receive! When I see my analytics I wonder how those people in Libya or Uzbekistan or Iceland have stumbled across my words. What drew them in? In what surroundings and on what device did they read? What did they take away?
The blog’s top 5 most-viewed posts have been:
- Teacher Growth: Helping teachers open their gates from the inside. A post about the beliefs underpinning my school’s teacher-growth-focused coaching model.
- Can and should teachers be (viewed as) researchers? The first post where I dared to say something which might be considered controversial.
- Work-family fulfilment: The elusive sweet spot. In which I attempted to explain my approach to making the family-work-study-self ecosystem work for me.
- No grades? No marks? No worries. An explanation of a term of Year 10 English with no marks and no grades, and its surprising outcomes.
- 2015: The Year of Writing Boldly, Abundantly & Dangerously. Where I set myself the challenge of being deliberately writerly in 2015, in my blog, my thesis and elsewhere.
Blogging has allowed me the opportunity to reflect, to work through my thinking, to share snippets of those things about which I am passionate, and most importantly to connect with others. It is an antidote to isolation (for me this is so important in my PhD, where I am largely without a face-to-face community of peers). Sometimes it just feels good to throw some thoughts out into the ether in the hope that they might resonate with someone else who comes across them, a kind of blogging message-in-a-bottle tossed out to sea.
Matt Esterman has written about the separate-together-ness of our offline and online identities. This blog allows me to explore parts of myself online which would be mind-yawningly dull to many in my offline life. It has allowed me to find a tribe of like-minded (lovable) weirdoes who want to engage with me around passions, interests and experiences.
Blogging has allowed me to make real connections, with real people, some of whom I chat to on Voxer, and some who I’ve since met with in real actual life. It has expanded the depth of my participation in the online world in a way which isn’t possible in even a long line of 140-character tweets. While Twitter forces us to haiku-ise our ideas (therapy for my verbosity), blogging allows longer-but-still-focused explorations of thought. And it is a free form of writing which provides reflection on, and escape from, the constraints of academic and thesis writing. I find that the more rigid my thesis schedule and the more rigorous my PhD work, the more lyrical and creative my blog posts become.
My favourite posts have been those which opened up online and offline discussion, in which I responded to someone else’s thinking or writing, or from which I was responded to. These posts, connected as they are to other people and other posts in the intricate spider-web network of the blogosphere, add layers to blogversation or lenses to well-worn issues.
Today, Naomi Barnes published a post in direct reply to one of mine, about the knowledge-building nature of blogging in a kind of collaborative parallel dialogue. She writes:
We stop being experts and start being co-learners. We have part of the knowledge. Not all of it and not necessarily true. We break the teacher-student archetype and become networked learners. Use the Web, the network, the connections, to create new knowledge. Crowd sourced, collaborative knowledge. Wikipedia on steroids. ~ Naomi Barnes
Naomi’s post challenges us to consider what the blogosphere and online knowledge might look like if we spoke more collectively, rather than as a cacophony of voices speaking in our disparate shadows or on our disconnected milk crates. She is daring us to harness blogging, the web, social media and technology for what they could do, for what they have the potential to be.
Thank you to my édu flâneuse readership so far, for indulging my pursuit of flânerial being and blogging, and especially to those who take the time to comment, retweet, respond and connect. This blogging thing is a vehicle for personal learning and global communitification. I’m in for another year.