March 20, 2005

Educational Theory and Practice - Journal

This is the first entry to my Educational Theory and Practice blog containing my reflections and discoveries. I hope by creating this forum that I will become a better teacher and mentor.

I have had an interest in journaling as an instructional technique for several years - and I have required students to keep a journal in my Educational Theory and Practice class since I started the course in 1999. Although some students embrace journaling, many, perhaps most, students dislike it. Not only is it time consuming, but as an introspective activity, it forces students to record their thoughts. Reflective thinking can be uncomfortable because it can lead to revelations about our understanding (or confusion). And while journaling can lead to some pretty profound thoughts - let's face it - it can be pretty mundane stuff. Like most, I worry that I don't (or won't) have anything important to say. The act of translating our thoughts into words - particularly in a written form - forces us to construct new meanings and connections. And isn't that what learning is all about? There is some evidence that journaling, as an instructional technique, may enhance long-term retention.

Many of the greatest minds in human history avidly recorded their thoughts in journals. Does the act of journaling lead to greater insights - and therefore builds great minds? Or do great minds journal because it is a natural outlet for their profound thoughts? Or is journaling merely a medium for great thoughts to be recorded and communicated? Perhaps all of these statements are true.

When I first read about blogging two years ago, I saw the POTENTIAL power of this medium for students and teachers to share their thoughts. I made a note about blogging in my journal (my paper version) and I envisioned using it as an instructional technique on an experimental basis in one or more of my classes. This is the first step in that experiment.