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“Think twice, write once,” I was taught 50 years ago when the execution of writing meant inkwells, and a blotted line equaled slovenliness. Now immersed in the writing process, we encourage our students to create draft after draft, to write one, twice, a hundred times, if needed, in order to create clarity, organization, and a logical, compelling argument.

“Rethink, revise, re-see,” is our mantra now, and it is a good one, but sometimes, our students revise themselves out of a voice, and if they have no new thoughts or no new opinions from outside of themselves, their rethinking resembles an overcooked stew. Peter Merholz praises the immediacy of blogs and their importance in open up the thinking process beyond the self:

I still believe that the power of weblogs is their ability to immediately put form to thought–that I can get an idea in my head, however poorly baked it might be, and in seconds share it with the world. And immediately get feedback, refinement, stories, etc., spurred by my little idea. Never before was this possible.
Peter Merholz
Our Blogs, Ourselves. Posted on 01/25/2002.

I’ve been thinking of the value of the immediacy of blogs in encouraging thinking in regard to this online discussion my class had last year.


Tracking the Discussion

Students were to give a preview of their final projects and comment on their reading of Pennebaker’s Opening Up or McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.

1. First student to respond sets out his project goals and comments on Ps theory:

One idea in Pennebaker’s book, specifically chapter eleven that I had a strong response to was, how some groups of people refrain from talking about certain topics. It seems as if talking about for example, the death of a family member or some type of traumatic event is forbidden. In the end, this approach does not solve anything and the people displaying this inhibited pattern style are hurting themselves. By inhibiting their thoughts, people only build anxiety and stress within themselves. The best solution is to talk about the troubling experience because it is only then that people can accept the event and move on. People must learn to first talk about what has happened, next discover a positive coping method, whether it being talking to friends or writing, then learn to accept and cope with the matter. Inhibiting what has happened only makes people into a volcano waiting to explode

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2. The second student sets out project goals, comments on AA

Was anyone else appalled at the racism occurring on page 142? McCourt depicts the black boy as humanless object. Putting money in the boy’s mouth and then snapping your hand back so as not to be bitten!!? Are you kidding me? This is one of the worst portrayals of racism that I have ever read. I cannot think of many more degrading things that you could do to a person. In the most despicable form, it is a complete objectification of blacks.

and he challenges other students to continue the discussion:

I am curious to hear what other people think about this scene at the dancing school.

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