Student blogs: Addendum

Thought I’d share too, since I think here out loud about pedagogy, the note I just sent my compost class.

I’m hoping, so you know, to do a few things by sharing your blogs publicly, and advising you of it. One is to let you know, the work you do matters, beyond our little campus. Another is, to say a few words, in the language I use as a writer outside the classroom, about how your work impinges on me. And a third is, to keep you in touch with each other’s work, so your blogs can be models for each other, inspiration, goad.

The theme here is: seamlessness. Which is compost, but less messy.

I’m struck by a couple of differences in how I teach poetry and how blogging.

One is, I would never proclaim one student’s poem over another. But here I have, implicitly, their blogs. I do mean to praise and publicize every student blog to the world before the class is done. Still, though, I’ve picked one, and another, to go first.

The fact is, some students have nailed it, right off, and I want the others to learn from them. And by saying, these guys have nailed it, I make that more possible. And by making my praise public – worldwide, technically, if very sparsely – I raise the stakes.

I have two motives in teaching, in some tension, and the tension’s laid bare here. One – do no harm. Two – push them as hard as I can get away with.

A poem is a tender creation. Has inmostness. A blog is probably less so. Has, more likely, a thick skin. So, no guarantee, but I’m less likely to do harm by offering or withholding praise. Am willing to risk stinging just a bit, even, if it will, like a nettle, nourish.

The other diff. This blog here. I don’t want my poetry students reading my poems! But I’m fine if my blog students read my blog. What up with that?

Maybe it’s that I know well how to teach the craft of poetry through other poets’ poems. Blogging, I want to teach best practices quick, by showing five or six good ones, and if mine’s in their fields of awareness that’s just fine. Then they can get down to the content, the good stuff.

Maybe it’s that bad examples of blog form are so much more available than bad examples of poetic form.

No. It’s that form and content aren’t intimate in a blog the way they are in a poem. They’re involved but not intimate. And so I’m teaching the form as a technique, an efficiency, and the content as an art. Get done with the one, so we can focus on the other.

It’s ok, blog world, you’re only 10 years or so old. Check in when you’re 10,000.

Newspaper Rock, Canyonlands, UT

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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