Some very good questions- Why do I blog? What is the purpose of my blog? Do I need to make it more academic?   4 comments

As regular readers of my blog know, 2014 was a roller coaster year and if not already done so, readers can read about it HERE

However what that blog did not really explore was my actual blogging, resuming my university studies, or the discovery at almost 56, that I am dyslexic.

Just this week (week ending 15/2/15) all of the things mentioned above, suddenly all came together and have made me reflect on my blogging. So in my style – here is the story about last week and the questions in this blogs title that I have been asking myself.

Since starting university I have been keen to share my blogs with my peers on my course, but despite putting several links on Blackboard (which is the online learning environment for the university) including some that were specifically related to the modules that myself and my peers are undertaking, hardly anyone looked at them – and no one left any comments or more disappointingly for myself, engaged in any professional debate about my opinions or about the content.

Last week, I asked a direct question about if anyone did read them, and if I should actually post the links if no one was interested.

A few people did get back to me – mainly to say they did not read because a) they did not have time, b) they were not sure how would fit into the course work.

It was suggested by a peer, that maybe if there was a separate space on Blackboard for my blogs, that it would be easier for my peers to locate them.

Luckily tutors were in agreement and a separate space for my blogs was set up.

After consideration I decided not to re post blogs that are already on Blackboard, but to put links to two of the blogs that I wrote last week about working in partnership – especially as one of the was a direct link to some of the required reading for one of my modules.

So I posted this one First partnership blog

And this one Second partnership blog

A couple of peers did respond – one to say thank you and that found interesting, and another who asked questions and made suggestions – for which I am very grateful as has led to my reflection – and after stumbling across a chapter in a book that I was reading as part of my research for my dissertation (independent study) – led to the answer for the questions asked and the suggestions made.

My peer asked if I could include a few more references and link the things I write about to theory as academic support for others – such as when I say not including names to make the link to ethics. My peer was concerned about not knowing when my writing was my personal opinion, or from my practice – or was actually the words of others from books and so on.

At first I said I would try – but I reflected and said I was not sure a) because I do find academic writing so very hard, it might take away my enjoyment of writing blogs, and as a result I might avoid writing them; b) That maybe my blogs were just to share my opinion and experiences with others (I am thinking of when I write about the conferences that I have attended); c) That my regular readers who are not all studying at level 6, may not read my blogs if I started writing in an academic format.

And that was it really – apart from the fact that I also questioned why anyone needed to reference other people’s work just to validate their own work.

NB. I did not use these actual words or the ones below, as I have had time to reflect a bit more about my own views on this – but the main idea / principle is the same

My own thinking is, yes research based evidence is great and should be used and referenced as gives a much broader picture than one persons observations. However great care needs to be taken to ensure that the research that using is in fact related to your subject matter – and not taken out of context or ‘cherry picked’ so that appears to validate your work / words – when in fact it does not. In my opinion, politicians of all colours are very good at taking things out of context and in suggesting that research undertaken for one reason / criteria, also applies to another reason / criteria. As an example take the EPPE research
http://www.ioe.ac.uk/RB_pre-school_to_end_of_KS1%281%29.pdf

EPPE is based on 3 and 4 year olds following them until end of key stage one, but is now being used in relation to two year olds – and you do not need to be an academic to know that the needs of two years olds are TOTALLY different to the needs of 3 and 4 year olds.

The EPPE research is an excellent long term study and is very useful- however is does not cover all childcare settings – in particular registered childminders. Yes it does included a comparison between children who have not had any or very little pre school experience but it does not include children who attended a registered childminding setting – and so there is no data or comparison about the children who attended childminder settings.

In my opinion claims that – even for 3 and 4 year olds – that outcomes are better if attend pre school are not founded, because you can not claim that a childminder setting provides the same outcomes as a group setting but nor can you say that a group setting is better than a childminder setting.

I would also suggest that the experience of children who do not go to any setting are so varied that using a small sample of ‘home children’ is not sufficient – numbers of children should have been equal in the home children and the group attendance children – and the research should have included childminders.

IT IS ALSO VITAL THAT EVERYONE ALWAYS REMEMBERS THAT ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL – AND SO NO MATTER HOW GOOD / COMPREHENSIVE / INCLUSIVE ANY RESEARCH IS – THE CHILD’s INDIVIDUAL NEEDS MUST BE CONSIDERED AND AT THE CENTRE OF ANY PLAN OR ACTION FOR THAT CHILD

However, it is an excellent piece of research – provided that people do not ‘extend’the findings beyond the research criteria, and therefore limits.

Anyway, as I often do I have gone off in another direction – but in this case I think a very worthwhile and useful in explaining my opinion.

However, now back to the reasons why I am writing this blog – the questions in the title

As alluded to at the beginning of this blog, this morning I was reading a book as part of my research for my dissertation which is all about heutagogy and pedagogy called’ Experiences in self determined learning by L.M Blaschke, C Kenyon and S.Hase (Afraid I have no idea how to reference it – as it is a self published book by Amazon – so here is the ISBN number 9781502785305 from the back of the book-a bit confusing as 2 different ISBN numbers inside the book)

Chapter 11 – which is written by Robert Schuetz – is all about blogs – and although I did not expect to find the answers to my question this morning, reading this chapter has helped clarify my own thoughts.

Schuetz says ‘ There is little doubt that sharing thoughts in writing creates opportunities for deeper learning and understanding’

So reason one for why I blog

I do find writing my blog supports my own reflection and extends my learning.

Schuest also says ‘Shouldn’t each educational stakeholder strive to leave a legacy of his or her learning?

So that is reason two

I do want to leave a record – and not only of my own learning but also my thoughts and opinions – and my practice as a registered childminder.

Schuest then quotes Tom Whitby (2014) Can be accessed from http://www.edutopia.org who mentions a number of benefits from writing blogs – I am just highlighting those that I feel are relevant to me;

Open doors to dialogue and discussion about any topic of interest to the learner
Reason three – I do write about lots of different things – all related to children and childcare, but many topics. And many doors that I never dreamed would be opened, have opened and I now engage in daily dialogue and discussion with some of the leading names in early years field

Give the learner a voice, and also counteract isolation
Reason four – certainly since I started writing my blog I have found my voice and grown from shy, never say a word in public person to someone who dares to challenge government ministers – to their face. Plus as a childminder it can be very isolated and my blog has made me connections with thousands of other people

Improve writing skill and creative expression
Reason five – despite the extreme difficulties that I still have with words, my writing has improved – and I think my creative expression has improved as well

Allow 24 / 7 learning opportunities supporting a variety of styles
Reason 6 – as friends and close colleagues know – my life is extremely complicated and very busy – so access to my blog at any time of the day or night is essential. And my style is my own – no rules or format set by others – I just do it my way.

And finally Schuetz says ‘Comments and conversation widen one’s perspective as a blog post becomes a source for other learns. This reciprocal learning effect is an important reason why publishing a blog can become so personally enriching, whilst simultaneously supportive to a community of learners.
Which is reason 7 – and actually just confirms what I thought and what I tried to explain (all be it not very well) in my reply on the university online environment called Blackboard.

In conclusion then – I blog for my own benefit, I blog to share my learning with others (who may follow the links and sort referencing for themselves), I blog to express personal opinion, I blog to share my experiences with those who may not have the same experiences, and those who have, I blog to encourage and support discussion and debate

and the final and most important reason – I blog because I enjoy it.

Therefore, I have decided I am not going to change my blogs, and in particular I am not going to make them less enjoyable to write by adding references or academic reasoning.

I do usually say if my opinion, I do usually say if my personal experience or if sharing (with permission and within the boundaries of confidentiality) the experiences of others.

People may quote me (and one person has written their dissertation on me and my opinions around the ratio issue)either from these blogs or where quoted in publications such as Nursery World or indeed from the article that I write for example for Early Years Educator magazine or Child Care Journal.

My opinion is my opinion, my observations from my practice are my own observations, and my ethos and practice is based on my ethos and practice – and usually not on anything that I have read – because as with the chapter that I have read about the benefit of blogging – I already knew this and the chapter has just confirm my opinion. And by the way the book I am referring to was written in 2014, as was the bit by Tom Whitby – So did they ‘know’ this first, did I ‘know’ it first (as I started blogging in 2012) – or did we all reach the same conclusion from our own practice and observations?

In others words did the chapter I read validate my own work / knowledge – or did the authors just share my opinion – and just because the three of us all think the same – does it make it ‘right’?

Clearly it makes it ‘right’ for all three of us because we all think the same – but I suspect (no I know) that others will have a different opinion or experience and therefore Schuetz, Whitby and WEBB will be ‘wrong’

Oh and if interested I did publish my own ‘Theory’ back in 2012 – this is the link to those who are interested Ethos – and The Webb theory – Scroll to near the end of the blog – however you may also want to read about my ethos

Anyone want to discuss, debate, agree, disagree …..

…… over to all of you – those of you who read my blog.

Posted February 14, 2015 by psw260259 in My university studies

4 responses to “Some very good questions- Why do I blog? What is the purpose of my blog? Do I need to make it more academic?

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  1. Interesting reading Penny, I read your blog because I enjoy reading it, you talk sense and it makes me feel that there are other people out there who share the same concerns for all children.

  2. Thank you for this fantastic and thorough walk through of your thoughts. You bring so much clarity and deep rooted commitment to your self and your profession. I long for the day when I am able to express myself this way. Thank you Penny

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