On Powerful Learning Practice’s “Voices” blog, high school English teacher Shelley Wright says that teachers and students need to understand that blogging is very different in kind from persuasive-essay writing. It’s more informal, looser in structural demands, and more playful. And in the long run, Wright argues, it’s likely a more useful skill:
I think writing and persuasive thinking skills are important. However, I question the current products we require of students as proof of their learning. Most of the essays written by our students likely end up in the garbage or the computer trash can. And most are for an audience of one. Blogging has the potential to reach and influence many. Furthermore, it has greater potential for being a life-long skill. ...
If we're trying to prepare our students to think critically and argue well, they need to be able to blog. It allows for interaction. It allows for ideas to be tested. And the best posts anywhere in cyberspace tend to have a point that can be argued.
On the other hand—because there’s always an other hand on the Internet—the editors of the literary magazine N+1 worry that the compositional norms of blogging and tweeting are wreaking havoc on the quality of our written expression:
[T]he supreme ease of putting words online has opened up vast new space for carelessness, confusion, whateverism. Outside of Twitter, a coercive blogginess, a paradoxically de rigueur relaxation, menaces a whole generation's prose (no, yeah, ours too). You won't sound contemporary and for real unless it sounds like you're writing off the top of your head. ... soon, if not yet already, it will seem pretentious, elitist, and old-fashioned to write anything, anywhere, with patience and care.
Some employers seem to have a similar view.
Where do you stand?
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.