The Blank Paper

When I read Terry’s article ’25 Ways to make yourself unpopular – Be Flexible’ I have to admit to feeling embarrassed! I was that person who had been invited to contribute an article and I was that person who asked lots of ‘what about...’ questions!

I have reflected on why that was the case and this is my defence!

I was ‘appearing’ on someone else’s space that they have developed over time. In this case, the space is well known and held in high regard for the words shown there. So, I immediately had the pressure of quality. As a relatively new writer I was very aware of the differences between our two blogs. Terry has an immense production rate, providing us with quality reading every day with occasionally more than one piece being published. My publication rate is far slower so I added another pressure of time.

Our styles are completely different and of course that may be the reason that Terry was kind enough to invite me to write an article!  At first though, I let that get in the way. I was conscious that I would be reaching a completely different audience and was concerned that they may not be happy with this upstart appearing on their tried and trusted read. So, many of the questions I asked were in an attempt to try to match what is written here.

How ridiculous is that! I am not Terry Freedman  nor would I (with respect) want to be. Once I got going it was easier and of course, once I got the first response from my writing, I was fine.

 So, to go back to the question of why folk prefer a framework rather than a blank piece of paper, I think it is about being confident of your contribution in someone else’s plan or vision. It is also about a fear of spoiling something that is working. It is about those first few faltering steps on a new pathway. It’s like washing up after a meal in someone else’s house. You know what to do but may be unsure of where everything goes and wouldn’t want them to spend hours looking for plates!

Maybe we should remember this when asking students to choose what they do. Some of them may know but there will be many who do not and that blank canvas, paper or screen  may be just too daunting!

Julia Skinner is a retired primary headteacher living in Bristol in the South West of England. She is very involved in class blogging and the use of social media in schools. Catch up with her blog at 'The Head's Office'

You can catch up on the other posts in the series by clicking on that link!