It’s natural, I suppose, that like seeks like. (A part of me contends that opposites only attract in turbulent youth and can probably be explained away with hormones bouncing toward each extreme.) It’s human nature, however, to smile and nod and think oh so wise thoughts when we hear someone espouse the very beliefs we hold dear.
The role of the scholar, of course, is to say, “Yeah, but…”
But this blog is simply documenting my journey, and it’s only Day 10, and I’m quite content in my guilt of thinking oh so wise thoughts.
All that to say: Dr. Punya Mishra‘s comments on blogging speak to so much of what I hold to be true as an English teacher. Truisms that withstand scrutiny, particularly in this cynical world, are hard to come by – which make them all the more essential in my mind. When spoken by someone we respect, these words take on an even more special meaning; I, for one, scribble them down (or, as the case may be, type furiously away), as if they must be captured, precious elemental sprites that will quite disappear if I haven’t a record somewhere.
The discussion in question dealt with blogging and voice and audience and all of those concerns that plague the conscientious scholar. Advocating for finding one’s voice as an academic writer, Punya offered the idea of blog as a way to not only experiment with voice but as a place in which one can wrestle with ideas. In the writing of a post, he said, “I know what I mean after I write it; you arrive at an understanding of your understanding.” That’s powerful stuff.
And it’s true. In the composition of a piece, I often come to know what I mean during the course of writing it. In fact, it’s within the revision stage, when I concentrate on the fine-tuning of words, ideas, phrases, that I’m suddenly struck with what it is I believe. In a way, I come to know meaning through the very construction of it. In education jargon, we call this “writing to learn” — and, indeed, I included this idea within my MSU application:
…through the many drafts this very paper has gone through, I have honed my purpose, developed my research goals more thoroughly, and solidified my dedication to this program. Without this act of writing, my well-intentioned but less than stellar articulation of goals would be, quite frankly, pathetic. The power of writing, then, is not something we can allow to be limited to the lucky few. It must be harnessed, examined, and taught to all of our students, regardless of socio-economic background or field of study.
But Punya goes further. He offers the idea of blogging as a purposeful way to engage dialogue, enter the discourse, and explore meaning. In fact, he claims that blogging is a third space. A place between informal classroom discussions and Academic Discourse. And it’s in this place, this place where formalized thought is still taking shape, that meaning is made.
There are ideas, of course, that I’m still wrestling with: audience and purpose, transparency vs privacy, the vulnerability inherent in honest, open dialogue. But I am hopeful.
And smiling and nodding and thinking oh so wise thoughts.