Bullish on Bogush

There’s some interesting data, something we’re short on in the discussion of Learning 2.0, on Paul Bogush’s nearly eponymously-named blog, Blogush. Bogush, an 8th grade teacher in Connecticut, asked his students to comment on how blogging for a world-wide audience over the past two months has changed the way they write. Most of the students, whose responses Bogush has faithfully recorded for us, said something like this one did:

Knowing that the whole world is able to see what I’m writing makes me think twice about putting something up there. It makes me check my work more carefully and it motivates me to do my best work.

Or these ones:

It makes me want to do my very best.

I realize that some of our cutoms are much different than in other parts of the world, so i try not to be blunt when i am explaining things.

Bogush clearly has his kids motivated; they rock, as he says.

But, as I commented on his site, I wonder what does it say about schools that students don’t care about how well they write until they know they’re writing for a blog-sized audience? Could it be that students think that school is not the real world, so to speak, and so they say–maybe rightly–who cares? Does connecting and collaborating make learning real? I know my own students are fired up by their WikiEducator project, which is similar insofar as they are writing for a world-wide audience.

Or does Bogush make writing real, if that is indeed the reason his students have taken up the pen? A teacher’s job is make an education real or relevant for students. I don’t mean relevant in the sense that the thing in question will secure a job, or entrance into univeristy or help balance a checkbook. I mean that students, especially young adolescents like Bogush’s grade 8s, are full of questions about the nature of knowledge, justice, ethics, society and themselves. “Who am I?” and “What I am I supposed to be doing here?” are the sorts of questions my students are asking. A good teacher, like Bogush maybe, will show them how being a careful writer–or careful reader, speaker, mathematician and so on–will help them explore possible answers in a meaningful way.

One Comment

  1. Reply
    Richard Smith c/o Braddo December 15, 2008

    Another comment from a Richard Smith–I was still wrestling with checkboxes and permission from Comments:(Comments still seem to be disabled, so another email… I think, if you get good email comments you could post them as comments yourself, since you can log into your own site.)I think this is a case where the web/blogs does make a difference. No matter how committed or exciting Bogush is/was, his students would never see writing in the classroom as going beyond those four walls. It just had to chance of doing that, realistically. And kids are nothing but realistic.Although teachers have other techniques – pen pals, submitting essays to story competitions – these are thin beer compared to the world wide audience that a blog post can command. And the fact that you’re reading his posts and quoting his students comments is proof of that.Here is a case of technology – the net, the computer, the blog software – helping students to get engaged with their writing. I think, anyway. Of course the teacher made this happen, and we come again to the importance of the excellent teacher in all this, but here is an example of a tool that a good teacher can wield to improve things. Importantly, it isn’t just the students writing that is being improved but their connection to the world. And that can’t be a bad thing at all.

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