A recent post of mine compiled some of my thoughts and questions about education after K-12, and I linked other blog posts that helped my thinking about passion in learning, decision-making, and life’s work. I noticed that John Spencer also wrote a related post about “DWYL” (Doing what you love). He took the topic to a different angle and discussed it in regards to blogging and teaching. His points were insightful and his post ends with:
I think the advice to “do what you love” and “write for yourself” sound noble, but they’re actually pretty steeped in self-absorption. Kids don’t need teachers who are “doing what they love.” They need teachers who will do things that they don’t love, because they are motivated by love for their students.
What a great statement about teaching, I thought. I think this applies to parenting as well. Parents certainly do things that can only be explained by their love for their children.
As for blogging by adults, I too have some confusion with: ”I blog/write for me/myself”. I wonder if sometimes it is a way to buffer us from negative feedback or judgement about our blogging or writing, or defend it as John suggests,
“It sounds noble, somehow uncorrupted by the petty, external need for gratification. “I write for myself” makes it sound like it’s all about personal growth.”
It got me reflecting about my own blogging. There is no question that I started a blog to share my thoughts and to contribute to the online conversations that were occurring about education. I am sure my posts often promoted my ideas, but I hope that they have contributed to a collective of ideas and actions that benefitted others. I also started my blog to help support other parent voices enter the education conversations, either through reading, commenting or guest blogging (such as here, here, and here). I really enjoyed offering “my space” and helping other connections and ideas in these online networks. I still feel odd every time I share a blog post of my own on Twitter.
I also hoped that the thoughts I posted “out there” would benefit me — my understanding and my thinking through the feedback, comments, pushback, or interaction from other readers. That certainly did occur on some posts. Without that kind of feedback, or whatever we call it…”validation” or “gratification”…. it can leave us trying to make sense of the feedback of data, or the sharing ”stats” of our blog. That is not a perfect science either. I am not sure what the number of “hits” on posts really means… some may have closed the post as fast as they clicked on it or it could be random search hits. I could have easily discontinued some time ago if I used just data or statistics or ”shares” as feedback. It is easy to question why I continue, but the sincere, personal and direct feedback I get from a few certainly helps me feel that my blog is helpful to others as well. I can’t see people continuing to blog “for themselves”, or at all, if they received no interaction or some form of feedback on their posts. Am I wrong?
I can often feel overwhelmed reading blogs and trying to decide on what to read, share, comment on, etc. I often reflect on the balance of sharing my own posts and posts of other bloggers. I guess it is passion that helps in all of this. Fortunately, I have a passion for writing and I value sharing and interacting with other bloggers and readers who are passionate about similar topics. I guess it has provided me with another way to extend my interest in supporting children and learning environments, even with the uncertainty at times that any of it makes a difference (as I wondered in a previous post). And there are many stories and experiences that many of us can’t blog or reach out about.
We can struggle as adults with making sense of why we blog and what impact it has, so I often think about younger people navigating this aspect of online presence. Doug Peterson recently posted some thoughts about online “influence” and suggested,
What I think would be of real interest in the classroom would be to have a discussion with students about what just goes into developing an online blogging presence.
I agree. This would be a good topic to explore with students, whether they are blogging or not, or about to start blogging. I am sure there would always be much to talk about regarding passion, purpose, motivation, stories, audience and feedback.
It’s a journey, for sure.