Be Selfish

I’ve really enjoyed reading some new bloggers spurred to start writing by Twitter Math Camp. Here are three I’ve particularly enjoyed, and I hope there will be more in the coming days. I’m glad some new folks feel comfortable sharing their writing with the broader community, and I look forward to learning from them.

I’ve seen an interesting sentiment on blogging, in particular from people on Twitter talking about why they don’t — the fear that they don’t have anything to offer, that their ideas aren’t worth sharing. I want to push back on that idea.

I recently went back into the archives of my blog to my first few months of posts. It was pretty embarrassing, and many of them were hard to read for me. There’s energy and excitement about teaching, but it’s all disconnected, half-baked ideas. Lots of block quotes and links to smart people, but not a lot of substance or coherent vision of what I wanted my class to look like. Lots of posts were kindof a mess, and most are ideas I’ve changed my mind on multiple times since then. Not many ideas worth sharing.

But I’m skeptical that the purpose of writing in this community is to help others. I think the best writing comes from a selfish desire to improve one’s own practice. So here’s my little spiel for anyone out there who has debated sharing their writing on the interwebs:

If you don’t want to write, don’t write. The math community needs lurkers, tweeters, readers, and people who enjoy learning from others.

But if you want to write, write. Write because you enjoy reflecting on your practice. Write because you learn about yourself and your teaching through your writing. Write because you have ideas and you want to capture them. Write because the release of processing challenging days or weeks or months or years through writing is some of the best therapy I know for an exhausting, challenging job. Write because by writing you will become a better writer. Write when you want to , and don’t write when you don’t.

Write to be selfish. Write to help you, to improve your practice, to teach a little bit better for your students tomorrow. And, as you continue to write for yourself, you’ll find that you’re also writing for others who have the same fears, the same challenges, and the same desire to get a little bit better at this job each day.

9 thoughts on “Be Selfish

  1. brian

    I couldn’t agree more, Dylan. I think an obstacle that many prospective bloggers run into is the belief that their writing won’t contribute anything special to the larger community that they identify with, like the MTBoS. Your post summarizes my message when I meet folks that feel this way. Heck, I encourage them to keep the posts private. Just write. For you.

    Reply
    1. dkane47 Post author

      Thanks, Brian. Although I wonder about things the broader community can do to make sure this message is sent to new folks? I do think that the way some conversations go can make it seem intimidating to put your ideas out there.

      Reply
  2. brian

    Hello! This post was recommended for The Best of the Math Teacher Blogs 2016: a collection of people’s favorite blog posts of the year. We would like to publish an edited volume of the posts at the end of the year and use the money raised toward a scholarship for TMC. Please let us know by responding via http://goo.gl/forms/LLURZ4GOsQ whether or not you grant us permission to include your post. Thank you, Tina and Lani.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Math Identities, Part 1: Me (& also tracking is bad) – arbitrarilyclose

  4. jnewman85

    Exactly! I just wish I had more time to read all the new bloggers out there. One of the reasons the blogging initiatives are such a good thing.

    I would even go so far as to say “even if you don’t like to write, still write”. I’m not a huge fan of writing, but the reflection has improved my classroom so much.

    Oh, and 4 years later, my posts are still a mess, ha!

    Reply

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