The Right Style

What is the 'correct' style for a blog post? When I first started blogging, I decided that my blog should be pretty serious. After all, one wants to be taken seriously, so it's logical that an article with a serious intent should be written in a serious manner.

But there are degrees of seriousness. If a blog post comes across as too didactic, it may prove useful, and may even be bookmarked for future reference. But it won't be enjoyed necessarily.On the other hand, some blogs go too far the other way in my opinion. Blog posts which use the occasional swear word may be funny, but you can't really share them professionally.

I experienced something like this before blogs came on the scene. Back in 1998 I saw a hilarious diatribe against the internet by a British comedian called Ben Elton. I should have loved to have shown it at my next Ed Tech Co-ordinators' Day; unfortunately, the use of a swear word at a crucial point made it an untenable prospect.

One of the things I am growing weary of, when I read some blogs, is their underlying arrogance. In my opinion, blogs are meant to encourage conversation, but it's difficult to feel confident to start a conversation with someone whose tone already suggests that theirs is the only valid viewpoint. I have to say, it is almost exclusively men who have this trait in my experience.

In my own writings, I have become increasingly conversational in tone. I'm writing more and more often in a way that is closer to speaking than writing. I'm not sure if that is objectively good or bad, but it feels right for me.

And I think that is the crucial point. When it comes to blogs, which, after all, started their existence as personal web logs or journals, we need to find our own voice and our own style. Only if we enjoy the act of writing will others enjoy the act of reading it.

Surely that is the standpoint we must adopt in schools too? For example, should youngsters be asked to 'correct' their grammar or not to use text-speak in their blogs? Should they even be asked to correct their spelling?

If I were back in the classroom now, I think what I'd like to do is encourage my pupils to experiment in lots of different ways when writing their blogs. I try out different things myself, sometimes writing list-style articles, other times writing longer, more discursive pieces. Occasionally I even experiment with fiction writing. As far as I'm concerned, experimentation is fundamentally necessary, in the same way that exercise is necessary.

Let's make 2010 the year of trying out new ways to express ourselves in blogs!