Personal Practical Knowledge: thoughts

– or why I encourage journaling, yet would rarely ask a student to show those scribbles or notes on a page. Private musings are more than brainstorming – they are personal and deserving of respect.

There is a difference between personal private writing, and the writing that students are asked to share.  Somehow though we appear to have taken words and as is often the case, given them new definitions:  journaling or diary keeping used to be a private activity- part of that personal practical knowledge base- an activity which some did automatically, while others needed encouragement to recognize how private scribbles or drawings or practiced writing would and could develop into thoughts on a page- today we have a multitude of “fake diaries” – for example the whole series of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid, or Dork Diaries”  enjoyed by many and yet- such practiced writing leaves some question how to appreciate what may in fact have been a private piece of writing for example “Diary of Anne Frank” ; a piece of writing that even when reread for the umpteenth time makes me marvel at the author’s fortitude while shuddering that we so blithely read over,  and, if a class assignment, dissect her (Anne’s) private wonderings.  That she continued to believe the world could be a “better place” in spite of everything that the horrors of WWII created, is a marvel; that we read the Diary and may not clearly remember to establish within our own students the expected set of boundaries/ that private writing generally has a right to remain private, and that writing which is submitted for marks or review is public- and if we ask students to attempt the Diary style of writing, to recognize that the assignment is different from the personal, practical, private writings or drawings or marks on a page that truly deserve the title of journaling or diary.  It is a privilege when a student approaches with an example of personal writing writing done for “fun”,  or to express a need, and wanting to share.  And it is within this notion of privilege that as educator my comments on this personal work are carefully selected to encourage, to empower, to grow.  Bearing in mind that as educator we are expected to be critical, and aware that critical includes the positive,  any encouragement offered is genuine, suggested areas for improvement only suggested not demanded, and gratitude for the trust implied in the sharing, extended.

Thank you: two simple words that we as educators must remember to include in our conversations with students if we are to truly be modeling a growth mindset, an attitude that allows for constructing and committing to practice.

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2 responses to “Personal Practical Knowledge: thoughts

  1. Thanks for your post Alison. Journaling has been an occasional and, often fruitful, activity for me since my adolescent years. 😦

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