Andrew B. Watt's Essay Encouragement

Writing Essays

One of the teachers I seem to visit with the most regularity doesn’t work at my school. He doesn’t even live in Vancouver, or British Columbia, or Canada. But I read about what goes on in Mr. Watt’s classroom through his blog – which I have mentioned thinking quite highly of elsewhere in these pages – and appreciate the parallels that often crop up between our two classrooms, even though they’re on opposite seaboards.

One such parallel arose this week, as each of our classes were working on historical essays in class. And while I may not have experienced the same angst expressed by Mr. Watt on this occasion, I still thought it would be valuable to ride his coattails in presenting this slideshow he made to help his students with historical writings.

And while my class is now benefiting from Mr. Watt’s help, I implore them – via their blogs – to help right a wrong he wrote about here. In posing the question “What’s wrong with the Edublogosphere?” Andrew replies as follows:

I think the biggest difficulty is that there are no prominent student bloggers writing about education, of which I’m aware.  There isn’t a vast crowd of students telling us what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, or even if we’re going in the right direction.

If someone has some student writers, who write about their educational experiences, to recommend — please pass them my way.

For that matter, I think it’s important that we start encouraging our students to look at, and respond, to some of the big names in educational blogging, so that we begin to get a sense of who really is on the right track to understanding what “the kids these days” are all about.

Of late I have been thinking about the possibilities of truly open-learning. Inspired by the likes of Andrew, and people like Alec Couros, Dean Shareski, Ira Socol and Shelly Blake Plock – each of whom have been involved in broadening the reach and breadth of our classroom, and directly or indirectly helped TALONS learners explore and expand on their individual learning experiences – I am always on the lookout for opportunities for the class to engage in a more global conversation about their education.

And now they speak to Dean’s audiences, and Shelly’s students, and are read by teachers in China, and on each of the continents. They write about music, and history, and running, and the Olympics (and the Olympics, and the Olympics, and the Olympics and the Olympics), and they continue to define themselves in conversation with those in their local, as well as global community. The people from outside the classroom who find their work and thoughts are each at different times teachers; and likewise do many of the TALONS no doubt become teachers, mentors, and sources of light for others immediate and afar.

So I am proposing to the TALONS class that you answer Mr. Watt’s call to become those Prominent Student Bloggers, to engage with voices in the Educational Blogosphere like those listed above – but also Will Richardson, Karl Fisch, David Warlick and others – and help shape the direction of education as you are experiencing it. In countless conversations in our Coquitlam classroom, your input is the strongest aid in developing an approach to not only your individual, but your collective learning, and I don’t see how this shouldn’t be the case on a much larger, and more effective scale that is becoming available to us.

After all, if Mr. Watt is going to be your teacher (for instance, he has a bevy of essay-resource materials available online), he may as well have the benefit of you being his.

2 Comments:

  1. I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. Please let me know what I can do to help you, and please feel free to ask what you can do to help me.

    This ought to be an enjoyable collaboration, and I hope that eventually I can put you together with my students, via Skype or some other method, and you can commiserate with one another about how bad or good your teachers are.

  2. What a powerful statement and how true. It does seem to be rare to find students blogging seriously about educational matters. I wonder if there are significant numbers of students who would. Or would we only hear in this way from a small number of more gifted students which wouldn’t reflect the views of the students we need to reach most. Hmmm.

    I do like the veiled description of how school could evolve. I encourage you, especially your students, and Andrew to join “the crowd” being sourced for their input on the 10 big questions for education here: http://10fored.wikispaces.com/ and in particular the question I happen to be moderating “What is the purpose of school?” http://10fored.wikispaces.com/school

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