Homework – something I cringed over many times through the years is the topic of a fascinating discussion on this blog – is it a curse, cure, or just pointless? In this piece about homework the many comments that I read seemed to concur that the way assignments are traditionally given, they are of little benefit to the students who need help with the material, and a bore to those students who grasp it quickly – but that there is often little active learning taking place in either case. What made this so interesting to me was not the pro or con on a well debated topic but the sheer quantity and quality of the opinions expressed. There were nuances, questions raised, strong feelings displayed, and challenges that stimulated my thought on a topic I felt had played out a long time ago. The fact that one can come back to the posts, comment upon them, add to the mix with articulate people across a spectrum over time can lead to a deeper understanding of whatever the issue. This is so different from reading one or two perspectives in a newspaper or periodical. The writing is different, too. It is more complex in that the blogger expresses both her/his opinion based on personal ideas , and as a reaction to the writings of others. It is literally a written conversation with the world. What an opportunity for opening the mind!
Whether the blogs were about writing, ecology,or encouraging learning, they made me feel connected to people I have never met in person – and never will, but whose opinions were suddenly important. This was a pleasant and exciting surprise.