When I finished school, and wanted to study English Literature, my parents asked me if I wanted to be a teacher. Those were days when there were not too many career options for anyone studying Arts. I certainly did not want to be a teacher. It was ironic then, that some 20 years later, I did become a teacher. This after graduating in Commerce and working in a bank for 7 years. I’ve done a lot of things before and after, but I have some good memories of the time I taught – more because of all I learnt during that time.
On 5 September, India celebrates Teacher’s Day, in honour of our first Vice President (later President). Having been a teacher myself, I would love to share my reflections on teaching and how what I learned there can be applied to blogging too.
Today I’d like to share 4 things I learned from my teaching career can be applied to blogging as well – personal blogging, that is.
Reflections On Teaching And Blogging
There are a lot of similarities between a teacher and a blogger – being inspired, being inspirational, needing to stay up to date, constantly working on your craft, but I’m going to keep this short.
Keeping it simple
I think the best thing I learned from teaching is the fact that what matters to students is not so much what you teach, but how you teach it. You might have a fantastic grasp on the subject, but if you aren’t able convey this in a way that is clear to the student, your teaching is useless. It’s the same with blogging. You might have a fantastic imagination and great ideas and a great depth of knowledge about the topic you’re blogging about, but if your reader can’t relate to your writing, you’ve failed. The idea is to write in an easy and flowing style, writing to communicate and not to impress.
Keeping it real
In the schools of today, classrooms have closed circuit television so that the teacher’s actions can be monitored. But in a sense, teachers have always had their actions closely observed – by students! Young people have the unique gift of spotting a fake. So if you’re trying too hard to be nice, don’t waste your time, a student will spot it right away. They’d rather you keep it real. I’ve had days when I went to a classroom and told the students I wasn’t feeling up to teaching and would they please spend the time meaningfully – and funnily enough, a classroom of 80 adolescent boys have done just that.
Our readers too can spot a fake. If you keep writing about yourself in glowing terms and act as if you are the font of all knowledge, there comes a time when your regular readers will start to question if you are real. And then there’s the case of the blogger who is always writing to seek attention. It seems that almost nothing goes right in her life. Name any illness and she’s had it! Earlier this year, Belle Gibson, an Australian blogger was caught faking terminal brain cancer. As Lincoln said : You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
As a teacher, I’ve often spotted a student who didn’t seem to be doing alright and reached out to him outside the classroom. I can honestly say that in those interactions, I was more a teacher than when I taught the subject.
Like teachers, bloggers must make their blogs not about themselves or their subject but about their readers and what might interest them too. So while each of us must blog in our own unique style, we must keep the reader – the main consumer – in mind.
Many of our readers are bloggers too, and sometimes, it’s good to reach out to them outside our blogs and ask them how they’re doing. Or let them know that you’re around if they need a ear or some technical support. Reaching out to a new blogger can make a world of difference to them. I know that people did that for me, and I try, in a small measure to pay it forward.
As teachers and bloggers we are called to be responsible individuals. We must use our words with caution, knowing that they have the power to both inspire or wound. I knew that as a teacher. As a blogger, I was a little slower to understand that. I’ve sometimes ranted on my blog – not very constructive at all. It’s alright to call a spade a spade and to talk about difficult subjects on our blogs. In fact, we must do that. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to ask ourselves if what we’ve written is constructive. So spreading rumours, gossip, or even giving glowing reviews about bad products are all irresponsible blogging and something we must not indulge in.
As Stephen King says – and I’m applying this both to teaching and blogging:
We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.
Have you ever been a teacher? Do you have that one teacher or blogger who reached out to you and made a difference? Do you think there are any similarities between teaching and blogging?
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