Busted Redux

After the initial shock of seeing my English assignment creating a mini-stir in the blogosphere, I’ve recovered nicely. Class discussion actually went pretty well, and somewhat by accident, we were able to discuss the question of unexpected audiences on the Internet. Most of the bloggers who came across our class blog were very supportive of or even excited about using blogs to teach writing and critical thinking, but I still feel a bit like I’m under a microscope–I’m having a difficult time composing this entry, which usually means that my reaction hasn’t fully been resolved.

I think part of my difficulty stems from my awareness that I now have some unexpected audiences. That points to one of the potential risks assocaited with blogging, articulated very effectively in this comment by George as part of a larger discussion (debate?) about a proposed private discussion of professors who have public blogs that students might (or, in my case, almost certainly read). There’s a great discussion of public vs. private identities, and I’m not quite sure how I feel. Like George, I don’t consciously create a persona when I blog:

I don’t use an (explicit) mask when I post, although as the identity thread makes clear, we’re all aware of the performative, mask-like elements that blogging entails.

My contact information is also available on my blog. I’ve probably been a little less candid about certain aspects of my personal life, but I’m sure that an attentive reader could figure out quite a bit about me (my politics? my interests? my background?) by reading between the lines. Still, I think that careful attention to audience is a vital part of good writing, and while I’m happy to have conversations about student-teacher relationships in a semi-public space where my students might be reading (hi, students), I think that conversation would take on a much different tone in a more private space where I’m with colleagues who share similar concerns (often having to do with employment issues). There are many potentially interesting conversations (including the current one about power relations) about this topic, but the decision to have a private conversation about personal blogs and teacher-stuent interactions is far from elitist. After all, there are many important conversations that students (probably) have about college that don’t and shouldn’t include me. That doesn’t make my students elitist; they’re entitled to some measure of privacy in coping with the challenges of college.

Still, I’ve learned quite a bit from keeping a blog, and I enjoy seeing my audience grow and change, but that consciousness of an audience may have an effect on what I say, on the self that I perform when I’m writing in this space and in my course blog.

2 Comments »

  1. margi Said,

    August 30, 2003 @ 4:21 pm

    Sir,

    Rachel is my mentor (in the vernacular, my “Blogmommy”). I found your class site through her and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. Despite my rather juvenile entries of late, I had every intention of becoming a famous published author in my adulthood.

    Since I am watching that dream die a slow and painful death, I assuage my bruised heart with the publishing of drivel on the Internet. It’s not quite what I had in mind. . .but it’s there if the muse strikes.

    I believe this is a wonderful way to share ideas. And I happen to think that forward-thinking educators (such as yourself) are invaluable. I’m interested to see how your class progresses and if your students get the “blog bug,” too.

    Best,
    M. Lowry

  2. chuck Said,

    August 30, 2003 @ 4:32 pm

    Thanks for the compliments. I’ve been thinking about these issues frequently over the last few days, as my posts suggest, and I’ve actually become even more excited about the potential of blogging in the classroom in the last few days.

    Perhaps most importantly, I think blogging allows students to actually write for a specific context, to view themselves as engaged in writing that actually matters, as Rachel’s response to my students illustrates.

    One student who wrote on Daschle’s blog put it well in class discussion when he said he hoped Daschle would respond beause it would allow my student to engage with a public figure on an important issue. Like you, I hope some of my students catch the “blog bug.” I’ve found it to be a wonderful tool for developing confidence as a writer, for seeing how my writing might have consequences in the “real world.”

    Good luck in your writing both on your blog and outside of it.

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