Why Every Teacher Should Blog - Reason #5

Whether he realizes it or not, Doug Baird is one of the teachers that has influenced me most. We car-pooled to Brighton High School together for several years, learning together what it means to be an effective teacher. Doug now teaches part-time at Brighton as he works toward his Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Utah.

It always struck me as funny when Doug, an intellectually talented man, would often say that "his brain was too small".

"What is 25 + 48 + 83 -34 x 15 ? I don't know that - my brain is too small. It's amazing that our students think they can quickly do these calculations without a calculator!"
Even though I have learned to employ Doug's phrase with increased delight (it's great when trying to explain why computers do some of the things that they do - "I don't know why your computer is frozen. My brain is too small"), I still find great satisfaction in learning new things. Which brings me to an exciting claim made by Wesley Fryer (backed by the research of Dr. Stephen Krashen).

Reason #5: Blogging can make you smarter.

Says Dr. Krashen in his book "The Power of Reading, Second Edition: Insights from the Research" (p. 137) :

Although writing does not help us develop writing style [Krashen contends READING develops writing style], writing has other virtues. As Smith (1988) has pointed out, we write for at least two reasons. First, and most obvious, we write to communicate with others. But perhaps more important, we write for ourselves, to clarify and stimulate our thinking. Most of our writing, even if we are published authors, is for ourselves.

As Elbow (1973) has noted, it is difficult to hold more than one thought in mind at a time. When we write our ideas down, the vague and abstract become clear and concrete. When thoughts are on paper, we can see the relationships among them, and can come up with better thoughts. Writing, in other words, can make you smarter.

Wesley continues with a summary:
The more we blog, the more we reflect, the more we think and write about learning and our practices as professional educators, the smarter we're all going to get!
So thank you Doug, and thank you Wes, and thank you Dr. Krashen. It's comforting to see that somebody out there has a brain that's much bigger than mine.

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