Anne responds to my “Will Emily be blogging?” question from yesterday with “Will Emily be writing?” And Aaron says “It’s not the blogging or the writing, it’s the feeling.” And James summarizes all of this with “blogging isn’t the point… it’s the writing stupid” (with a nod to Greg.)
I’m stubborn. To me it is the blogging. The verb. Not the noun. And I’m not being snarky. Really.
Of course it’s the writing, and no one celebrates that more or better than Anne. She’s downright inspiring when it comes to ecouraging and nurturing young writers, and I have a feeling she was just as encouraging and nurturing before she stumbled across Weblogs. Writing comes first, and unless we work to develop writers we’ll never develop bloggers. No doubt about it.
And it is the feeling. We wouldn’t do this if we didn’t feel the joy of expression through writing, the flutter that audience provokes. And I can’t tell you how many students I’ve had who have no passion or feeling for writing because they’ve been beaten down time and time again by teachers demanding correctness before creativity and form before feeling. (And with what I’m reading about those poor third graders out there stressing over the high stakes tests they’re taking, I doubt this is going to get better.)
And no, we don’t need blogs to teach writing.
But we need blogs to teach blogging. I think that’s where this whole discussion has been heading for me, and I find myself more and more needing to distinguish between the noun and the verb. (And forgive me if this is all sounding redundant, but it’s the way my feeble brain processes stuff…moving molecules.) Now I know people have been “blogging” (reading and synthesizing and writing) before blogs. (The NPR piece referenced in an earlier post says Plato blogged…) But Weblogs and the power of personal publishing change the act of blogging into an even more important genre than when we were doing it with paper. And it’s the audience that makes it different.
I guess what I’m saying is that blogging is still just a form of writing, but it’s an exciting new form (to me at least) that changes the equation and may be a way to engage kids in writing more effectively than what we’ve done in the past. So for me, I hope Emily is blogging when she’s in high school, because it’s obviously a form of writing that inspires her. Maybe she’ll be giving blog readings and participating in blog slams or posting contests. Or, maybe not. But there is something in this genre to teach and nurture nonetheless.