Inspiring students to find their muse

Ever since I heard Konrad Glogowski speak at Educon 2.0 last year about blogging and the teacher’s role, I’ve found that a fascinating subject.  How do we encourage and support our students into following their own muse in their own blog?

And I wonder how do we encourage them to do this when they ask research questions as well?

In chapter five of her book The Writing Life, Annie Dillard inspires with a beautiful challenge. She writes about the “strange seizures” of fascination that are unique to each of us.  She asks:

“Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands?  Because it is up to you.  There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. . . .You were made and set here to give voice to this, your own astonishment. . . .

How do we convince students how unique their voice is?   and how uniquely they approach the world?

So often when confronted with the idea of writing a blog of their own(as Clay Burrell grappled with in his classes last year) or when confronted with a research assignment, students freeze up and don’t believe they have anything meaningful to add.

In fact, how many of us do that or other educators we know who feel reluctant to blog (or to write)? We sell ourselves short and we sell the world short when we allow that belief to take hold of us.

Dillard’s invocation is a call for each of us to recognize how unique and personal our own voice is;  how uniquely us our own interests are.

As Owen Wilson calls it in “You, Me, and Dupree,”  it is our “-ness” that is who we are.

And our role in this as educators?  In an eloquent and must-read post, Konrad Glogowski writes,

“This isn’t just about granting them leave to learn from and with somebody else in some online community that we’ve approved. This is also about traveling with them, not to supervise or hold their hand, but to advise as more experienced peers – to explore, learn alongside them, and help them reflect on what they are learning.”

And by writing about the learning we do with our students, which is uniquely, passionately ours, we fulfill the reason we are here in the first place–to, as Dillard writes, give voice to our own astonishment.

One thought on “Inspiring students to find their muse

  1. Konrad’s comment about co-traveling with and learning alongside students as more experienced peers dovetails with the findings from the Digital Youth Project about how adults’ roles are shifting. Especially the section devoted to “geeking out,” where adults aren’t the default resident experts. That moniker goes to whoever knows their stuff, regardless of age. And, as you suggest, by acting as astonishment-voice teacher (is there a diction of strange seizures?) to help students over the freeze-up hurdles. And modeling “giving voice to astonishment” is a good way to start.

    Speaking of Dillard and astonishing writing, do you know Dina Strasser ( You probably do. I like to think of her as my own private Annie Dillard. *sigh.* Guess I have to share.

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