Taking my first step into blogging, I’m reminded of Bilbo’s cautionary observation to Frodo that, “It’s a dangerous business … going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Going public with our thoughts can take us to places from whence it’s hard to return. Nonetheless, the impulse to think out loud is always with me. Twitter was an attempt to mercifully channel that impulse away from ruminative emails, which even friends might eventually see as unwelcome spam. But tweets are so short, tempting one to write sardonic haiku rather than rich thoughtful compositions. I’d like to try being more thoughtful and positive.
There’s a debate over whether blogging is publishing. I tend to think that it is, but traditional publishing creates pressure to be so careful, precise and sure of oneself that it’s easy to give up before getting to the point of submitting one’s work for others to judge for print-worthiness. Blogging, like the short-lived electronic devices on which we now write, is more provisional. Bloggers can acknowledge a certain built-in obsolescence in what they write because they intend to rethink it all as they go along. What we digitally publish is certainly permanent, allowing yet unborn enemies to throw our easily discoverable words back at us in the future, but it seems to be understood that one can be a little spontaneous in this platform. Within that spontaneity, adventure and danger lie in wait.
I suppose this is the point at which I should make the familiar statement that the thoughts expressed here will be my own and not those of my employer, my family or any other acquaintances. I value my reputation and I am not without professional ambitions. I have no aim to embarrass myself or my valued colleagues; or to contradict the official positions of the organization that pays me, and with which I am proudly associated. Still, I expect to change my mind on occasion, especially if someone actually reads this blog and offers thought-provoking comments on what I write. “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.” But I would not want my inconsistency to reflect poorly on my associates.
Among the reasons I’ll be writing in the coming days will be to unpack some of the apparent inconsistencies in my thoughts on education in New York and in America. Another will be to step up and try to live that which we are expecting of our students and of our colleagues in the classroom. If teachers are being evaluated in part on their ability to leverage technology in the service of teaching “21st century skills,” I should deepen my own understanding of what that can look like. If, according to the Common Core ELA Standards, our students must learn to “use technology, including the internet, to produce, publish and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback including new arguments or information,” then I ought to challenge myself to learn how to do the same.