Thursday, May 19, 2011

I go in spells where I write a lot about my teaching. I spent some time when I first started writing here thinking about how to handle my students finding me, what things are acceptable to share, etc. I considered this question not just about my classes but about other aspects of my life too. True, 99% of people cannot spell my last name, so that makes google searches tricky. (Even my own maternal grandmother couldn't remember whether it was UI or IU - she resolved it by writing in cursive, and dotting it high up.) But one can't rely on all those diphthongs to keep a secret.

It was an extension of a subject I'd thought about many times pre-www when writing stories - how much to self-censor? It was not really necessary to self-censor a journal in the days of the spiral bound notebook (well, maybe a little) but it was always a question with fiction. I have a couple fiction stories that are great, but one of the main characters makes it impossible for them to be published. I err on the side of self-censoring. I know, most writing advice advocates breaking free, avoiding the practice, but once when I (innocently) threw caution to the wind in a story, it bit me. I didn't even see it coming!

In the early days of weblogs, there were debates about the self-censoring question, and lots of bloggers pushed not holding back online. I was always skeptical of this, even more than in stories.

I keep this ejournal as a record, just like I kept my paper journal. It's a reflection tool, and I use it as a chronicle. I do it for myself. I've been influenced by Elwyn to some degree. Imagine! Keeping a journal every day of your life from age 16 to age 86. Recording the mundane, the weather, daily life, major events. Newspaper clippings and receipts.

I've figured out how to navigate the censorship question. It's gotten a lot easier actually, now that everything is traceable, everybody is always online, and facebook has made everyone vulnerable, not just those of us who were online pioneers.

Still, there are some things I never write about, both in terms of my job and personal stuff. The main character of the story described above is an example. Sometimes I'd like to write more on something - but cannot. That has made me consider starting up a private journal again. But I've never been as consistent as I am here, and I don't want to break that continuity.

In terms of classes and students, I mostly avoid specifics. Not entirely, but that's made a bit easier by my having over 100 students every semester. It's hard to figure out who it might be with so many classes and students. If I want to be a little more specific about something sensitive, I wait several semesters before writing about it. I never write a reflection or funny incident here that I wouldn't share with class. In fact, I often do tell stories and reflections to class. I always get more than a few laughs from my anecdotes.

This is a long introduction to what's on my mind right now. One of those things that I'd like to write about more specifically, but can't. The E student. The reason it's on my mind is due to this. That's one of my anecdotes, from class last semester. The E student is just like the woman I described as meeting at my local watering hole. Oh, I don't know if she is a free spirit, and I don't know if she has a tendency to shoot her mouth off when she drinks wine, "no offense." But the attitude - that education as a discipline, schools of education, toleration, foundations, certification - are BS is a commonality.

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