Blogging and Students:

Reader Ben Wickert asks:

As a law professor, have the beliefs you express on your blog been challenged by students, whether in class or out? How do you express yourself without causing too much controversy? Or, perhaps, is that not even a concern of yours?

The answer to the first question is "no." It's too bad, since I think students should talk more to their professors, and argue with them (politely) when they disagree. This is s best done outside class, unless for some reason the blog post is squarely on-topic to the current class discussion. But if a student came up to me and said he disagreed with something I've blogged, and wanted to discuss it, I'd be delighted. As to expressing myself, I'm happy to cause controversy, if I think I'm right. I am especially careful with particular posts that I think will be controversial, to make sure that I'm indeed correct -- I don't want those sorts of controversies in which I end up looking like a fool. But creating the kinds of controversies in which I say something accurate yet controversial is, I think, part of my mission as an academic. And it's fun.

By the way, if any teacher-bloggers (whether in higher education or in K-12 education) have any interesting stories about students reading your blog posts and reacting to them, please post them in the comments.

Doug B. (mail):
I have been lucky enough to have eagle-eyed students catch typos and other small mistakes on my blog (, and also had a few students send me an article to link or an idea to develop in a post.

I think blogs can serve as a fantastic teaching supplement -- a form of on-going optional reading -- and I heartily agree with Eugene's perspective that is great when students want to engage with items/ideas on the blog.
3.7.2005 9:35pm
kb (mail) (www):
I've had a few students post comments to the blog, and gotten email from others, as have some who've heard me on radio. It's always been positive, so far.
3.8.2005 12:01am
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
No, but I've had students comment on your blog. When I teach philosophy of law (and some political phil), I strongly urge them to read VC and Solum, and the better ones do -- your post about the obscenity statutes and the film "Takin' It To The Jury" generated an entire class worth of discussion. I think in time, more blogging profs will see more (non-obsequious) student blogreading. But so far, if my students are reading my posts, they're not letting on.
3.8.2005 8:42am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Only once. I was teaching Constitutional History at Boise State, and I blogged about how disappointed I was with the research papers that I had received (although several were quite well done). I did not identify any student's paper by name, and I expressed my concern that someone had really done a disservice to most of these students by not teaching them to write a competent essay in high school or lower division college classes. I was rebuked by one of the students in class for having written that--that it was embarrassing to him.
3.8.2005 10:36am