Thursday, November 20, 2003
choose your style: neoclassical | blue | modern | nouveau

Thoughts on EdBlogger

I'm heading for EdBlogger, and asking, "Why do weblogs matter for schools?" Not because "Web skills" will help the kids get jobs, but because writing for the Web helps restore the value of writing.

What we do ourselves, what we ask children to do, must be worth doing. Writing a sonnet is hard, but worth doing; copying five synonyms out of a thesaurus is easy, but worthless. Out of an exaggerated tenderness, out of a genuine concern that children should not feel hurt by failure, we have kept them away from real challenges. We’re not letting them play the same game as the great players, even when they could. (Philip Pullman, Isis Lecture 2003)

Writing artificial exercises to satisfy a teacher is, at best, an invented and artificial task. Who benefits? Students see this, they know it.

Writing a weblog is public, it's serious, it means something -- and it continues to mean something even if your teacher is a fool or a knave. Dan Bricklin had the key insight here, back when everyone thought Web writing was about getting a big audience: even if only your mother reads your weblog, it's a great thing. We do all sorts of things that are just for our family -- notes, favors, phone calls -- things most people probably don't care about. These are valuable and precious.

Thoughts on EdBlogger

Writing for your friends and family is great. Writing for your teacher, so you can get a good grade, is misery.