I have not been blogging much recently for a number of reasons but perhaps the biggest reason is that I have not felt like I have anything interesting to say. On reflection this runs against my whole rationale for this experiment as I laid out in my first post, that blogging for me is a way of ensuring reflective practice, which is at the the heart of learning.
So not blogging because I didn't have any completely formed ideas is a bit of a cop out. The point being that this is precisely where I should put my half formed ideas in the hope that by writing them down I may develop them and that people who agree or disagree may comment and thus add to the process. (for more reasons to blog please see Tony Karrer's excellent collection)
Many of the things I have learned in the last 9 months have come from this. Having the courage to put thoughts up in public and risk being laughed at (which doesn't hurt anywhere near as much as you might think) means you come across new ideas or developments faster than you would imagine.
I may have written about this before but finding people who change the way you think on certain subjects is one of the joys of life. Many years ago when I was still at university I went on holiday to America to stay with one of my new friends. Because American universities start earlier than British ones I was able to spend a couple of weeks in Washington DC experiencing life as an American student. My friend lived in a very poor neighbourhood in the north of the city which had a large number of homeless people congregating near the metro exit.
As a middle-class left-wing (ish) student I felt very guilty about just being there on holiday spending money on my credit card whilst these people begged for food. One day I bumped into a friend from home who was just returning from a year in Nicaragua with a Quaker peace mission. He came back with me to the apartment in Mount Pleasant and as we walked from the underground I told him about my guilt and how I always gave some of the change in my pocket to the homeless.
"All apart from this one up here", I said to him as we approached a particularly bedraggled old man, "He just sticks his hand out and grunts aggressively" I explained.
"Oh, so you're not giving him money because he isn't begging correctly?!" said Allan without missing a step.
It hadn't occurred to me to even consider the effect that having to beg for food might have upon a man's dignity. And in less than 3 yards my opinion on something had been completely changed. I turned round and gave the man all the money I had in my pocket - which admittedly wasn't much.
I still cherish this moment 20 years later. There have been moments like it since but this is the easiest one to tell in a blog.
So I guess the message is this; not putting yourself in a position where people can challenge or disagree with you is only doing a disservice to yourself. As I have said before, what's the worst that can happen?