Friday, May 6, 2011

Flipping Theory for Moving Practice

How do you blog?  Why blog?

In our Orientation to the UNC Charlotte Writing Project Summer Institute this Saturday we are going to spend the afternoon thinking about blogging.  I had the idea that blogging would be a really interesting way for participants to have moving conversations about their inquiry work this summer.  

To start with in planning the session I was thinking, “Okay, how can we best facilitate getting this blogging going with people’s inquiry questions.”  Talking with Lil and Sally, my co-facilitators, about this brought out the inquiry implicit in this (and all) content and pedagogy.  In asking others to think about schooling and pedagogy in terms of inquiry, I am creating a space, in which I need to engage in that same reflection myself. 

In our Summer Institute inquiry projects, we push to the forefront why questions that are behind all the how-to’s.  For example, we would try making the flip from how to blog to why blog. The how-to part makes the assumption that blogging is useful and applicable and doable.  How-to symbolizes the ways that teachers are often issued professional development in drive-by, packaged, mandated ways.  It’s one of the things that the National Writing Project works hard to interrupt.  Instead of focusing only on the technical, what I hope we do is to think together about why blog anyway?  This summer as people engage in their own inquiries and demonstration lessons, I hope that we can keep reminding each other to make this flip from how to why in more of our work.

Now, the problem is that this kind of inquiry can keep unraveling itself on and on, which at some point loses the purpose of having effect on the material world, on ourselves as writers and teachers.  So, while we think together in Summer Institute about blogging, and the background issues (which I hope we will foreground) of public and private writing, we are also going to ask ourselves and participants to attempt to DO something in this very space that we are contesting.  This doing might be blogging or some other move toward public writing.  

We are going to start this at orientation in whatever ways we each can.  We are all going to plog- or blog on paper- and we are all going to set up a blog space, too, though some of us might not hit the publish button this weekend or even this whole summer.  As part of our inquiries, though, I am going to ask myself and participants to consider more public spaces for writing and to consider who benefits from privatized writing.  I hope that we will find places to disrupt the privatized how-to writing at teachers with some public, inquiring writing from teachers.  This gets to the big thing about being a learner and a teacher that I want to keep inquiring into myself, figuring out how to deconstruct the why’s behind actions while still constructing the how part as we engage in action ourselves in our everyday lives.