I do remember an apothecary,—
And hereabouts he dwells,—which late I noted
In tatter’d weeds, with overwhelming brows,
Culling of simples; meager were his looks,
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuff’d, and other skins
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scatter’d, to make up a show.
–Romeo and Juliet V.1
Not long ago a friend of mine asked me why I blog. Why this salmagundi of ideas about (mostly) education? How, he wondered, did I decide what to write about, and when? I tried to answer him over the phone, a muddled answer at best, one that made me sound a lot like that apothecary in Romeo and Juliet, who stocked his shelves with oddities, some of which made a difference in the course of Shakespeare’s play. Asked again by another friend, I thought I’d do a better job if I jotted out an answer. Here goes.
I blog because I want someone to notice what I’m doing and give me a five issue story arc in the new Moon Knight comic book.
I blog because writing helps me reflect, celebrate, explore ideas, and (when I’m at my luckiest) join the great conversation about a topic I care greatly about: teaching and learning.
Flannery O’Connor said: “I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I’m not quite that bad (or good; I’m sure there are some Flannery O’Connor fans out there; I’m one), but I do know that putting pen to paper puts me in a contemplative zone, and helps me reflect on my professional practice. In addition, I think that blogging regularly helps me live life in a more thoughtful way, observing more closely and engaging with the world more mindfully as I go through my day.
Through posts I’m also able to celebrate the great work of teachers and students at my school. I’m often out and about on campus and see inspiration, and writing about the positive events I see helps me appreciate the people I work with every day.
I hope my readers (from Minnesota to Australia) know my school, at least a little, and think: “now that’s a good place.” It is, and blogging lets me share our story in a truthful and celebratory way.
Blogging also helps me push myself to explore new ideas, and connections between education and the world around us. It prompts me to engage with educational theory, and see how I can bring this to my own professional process. And by its public nature, it puts a bright light on what I do, and invites me to be (or at least feel) accountable to more than just myself. I’ve had parents and teachers ask me about ideas I’ve blogged about, and this interaction is renewing, rewarding, and keeps me on my toes.
It’s this potential to prompt conversation that intrigues me most about blogging. This public collection of thoughts is a modest way I can join the greater conversation about education. Sure, my work is mostly local, but I hope that some of the ideas might resonate with folks with different zip codes and different points of view.
If one of my posts can spark discussion or be a catalyst for someone else, then maybe these odds and ends, these skins of ill shaped fishes, have a place in the conversation too.