Writing helps me think

imageI write this blog for many and varied reasons. Not to sound corny, but this blog makes me feel part of a web community. This blog also provides information to my students regarding new gadgets and associated technologies. And to be honest, there’s a bit of ego and vanity involved also.

But the main reason is that the exercise of writing helps me better understand. I may think I understand a technology, such as, to take one example, resistive vs. capacitive touch screens. But once I start putting pen to paper (figuratively), I find my knowledge is superficial and incomplete. Perhaps to avoid the embarrassment of posting superficial or incorrect information, I research the issue … and learn … before I publish.

(I could say a similar thing about teaching. I may think I understand a concept. However, when I prepare to explain it in depth to my students, I sometimes realize that I don’t understand the concept as well as I thought I did. So again, I research … and learn … before I teach.)

Writing also helps me make choices. As you know, I am constantly dithering between gadgets. (Maybe that’s what the guy in the picture is doing too.) The discipline of writing helps me identify the various factors I should consider and then weigh them.

What do you think?

2 Responses to “Writing helps me think”

  • I think you have hit on one of the most important aspects of teaching (and learning). When I was a tutor back in the day at UCLA, I realized much the same thing – in explaining to someone else I also clarified it in my own head or realized my own gaps in understanding. I also realized that having to explain something to someone else required that I know more than I thought I had mastered (and, hence, more research, etc.) This really only became a problem when I was working on my master’s thesis and my advisor kept pushing me to finish. I kept telling him I didn’t know enough yet – that the LA aircraft industry and the development of a regional production system demanded an understanding of the players and institutional/firm dynamics and linkages in their historical context. (You see, Kevin Starr, the state historian had not finished his book yet so the research was grueling). Of course, I was also told “don’t get it right, just get it written”! Which I did, and the hard-bound version now sits abandoned on a lonely shelf in the Young Library at UCLA.

    • “Don’t get it right, just get it written.” Sounds like one of my book editors 🙂

      While this blog doesn’t pay much — actually it doesn’t pay anything — at least my boss (me) doesn’t put pressure on me to “publish or perish.”

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