This reflection comes from the GEDI readings for this week, the links for which can be found at the bottom of this post.
This blog works as an exercise in humility. What does that mean? I mean that every time I post, comment, or reply to a comment, I make a public statement: “I am still learning. Read these words, and you’ll see my progress.” What’s more, I create an invitation. “Come learn with me.” At first glance, my idea might seem either painfully obvious or hopelessly idealistic. The beauty of the matter? It could be either or both of those things, but the idea is no less significant.
By using this blog to document my reflections and relating them to my academic interests, I give future students a show of trust. In doing so, I embrace not only hope but also accept consequences. I accept the hope that in doing so, they might know that they need not fear sharing partially-developed ideas or asking questions with me or (ideally) in the classroom. But likewise, I accept the consequence that comes by lowering myself in a public view. Lowering myself might very well lead to being viewed as foolish by students, leading to issues of respect in the classroom. It might lead to being considered idealistic by colleagues, leading to hesitancy sharing their progress with me. It might lead to being considered less professional by superiors, leading to increased scrutiny of my work.
Or maybe it might lead to none of these things as the blog never gets over a single reader. But I accept these possibilities and their ramifications because by posting to this blog, I, and by extension all the GEDI students, make several statements:
- I am honest. I’m honest about who I am. I don’t know everything about anything, and that’s okay. You can see progress. It’s linked to my peers and represents me as I am in the moment, and I choose to make that public.
- We help each other.You can see us share our thoughts and learn from one another. We accept critiques and praise alike.
- We’re committed to learning. Our blogs document not only our path towards becoming better writers or educators, but act as a reminder to students that learning persists throughout life, and begins by saying “I don’t know everything, but I’d like to learn a little about something.”
Reading Links Copied From Week One of the Spring 2019 Contemporary Pedagogy Course.
- Gardner Campbell, “Networked Learning as Experiential Learning” (2016)
- Doug Belshaw “Working Openly On the Web” (2014)
- Tim Hitchcock “Twitter and Blogs are Not Just Add-ons To Academic Research” (2014)
- Seth Godin and Tom Peters on Blogging (2009) (YouTube)
- TEDxMHK: Michael Wesch – What Baby George Taught Me About Learning (2016) (YouTube)
Jon, I greatly appreciated the honesty in your post. This semester is my first semester teaching my own laboratory course, but before I came to graduate school I worked as a Lead Tutor and Student Program Coordinator in the Student Success Center at my old university. In training to be a tutor, there is a lot of discussion about the tutor’s role, one main point being “you are not a second teacher for the course, but rather, a peer-learner.” However, I always thought that all professors are and should be considered peer learners–they have learned more on that particular topic perhaps, but they are in no means done learning. So, in my lab, I try to “teach” in the same way I “tutored”–as a peer learner, guiding them through the material, but letting them show me what they know and teach me what they want to know more about. Perhaps, as you mention, that humility may be idealistic and lead to issues of lack of respect, but I’d rather be viewed as a resource than an authority.
Thanks for the feedback, Heather! I’d really like to hear more about your approach to the lab teaching. What does being a “peer-learner” entail, exactly? Have you encountered any issues of respect or professionalism from this approach? If so, how have you addressed them?
Thank you for this sincere post. I know that it takes courage and strength for academics to put themselves out there, talking about not being perfect and showing the vulnerable nature of human beings. It’s great that you are considering this as the first step of your journey. And also, yay on learning as a persistent act of our entire life. I am always fascinated by the idea of life-long learning!
Thanks for the feedback, Arash! Learning’s awesome, right?!
Jon, thank you for your post! I appreciate you exploring the point that we are all being vulnerable in multiple ways as we post in our blogs. I found this idea expressed in different words in some others students’ initial blog posts of this semester. I think this may be one reason some of us are less fond of blogging – it requires a level of vulnerability and exposure that is uncomfortable for us. However, I believe this factor makes sharing our thoughts via blogging all the more valuable.
On point, Shannon! Thanks for the feedback. Vulnerability’s something that’s sadly misunderstood and stigmatized. Hopefully we can do our part towards addressing this.
Thank you for sharing. I like how you added the readings as a reference for the post. I might copy you on that if it is ok (so I learned something from you already).
I love to read posts from others because I usually learn something and it helps me think of different ways to view things or look at a story from a new direction. I agree about the continuous learning cycle. I believe in being a life-long learner. It’s good for the brain and the soul!
Thanks for the feedback Cindy! I’m perfectly fine with you copying it, glad to know I’m off to such a good start!
It takes some courage . I enjoyed your open perspective on what this blog represents for you and what you hope to get out of it. I found while I don’t have time to blog often — when I do get the chance it’s a fulfilling moment to realize the work put into myself intellectual takes form through writing (especially if it’s outside my discipline). Is this your first blog?
Thanks, Tim! Actually, no. It’s my first blog dealing with academic matters. I actually had some experience blogging back in my early college years, but it was mostly creative writing or poetry based. I’ve also used WordPress platforms in my experience as a reporter and media reviewer I’m hoping that I can immerse myself into academic blogging with the same (hopefully more) enthusiasm.
Jon, that’s really great post! Honestly, I began with the similar introduction in my first post. This idea of writing in the name of “humility” made me feel so good as the one who didn’t like the blogging. Same here, why not do we share our humility via our posts. and show our subjectivity and agency in a very sincere manner 🙂
Cheers Şengül! Here’s to humility!
Great Post, Jon! Blogging feels really easy until one has to try it; then all the self-doubts begin to come to the surface. I had never thought of blogging as humility, and your post has given me a new insight into blogging. And yes, making oneself vulnerable and putting oneself out there requires humility – especially as beginners. Thank you for this!