I’m a teacher by vocation and temperament. I love to explore ideas and share them with others.
But I’ve never blogged before. The basic reason is that I’m an introvert.
Of course, as most people now realize, introversion isn’t the same thing as shyness.
I used to be shy. I was so shy as a kid growing up in Jamaica that some of the teachers in my first school thought there was something wrong with me. Through my teenage years I was the person other teens described (if they were kind) with the phrase “silent waters run deep.”
I was so shy I had a visceral reaction if I was asked to make an announcement in my church youth group; my throat would constrict and my body would tremble.
Teaching is in my blood
Yet by seventeen I was leading Bible studies in my home church and even preaching from time to time. Yes, I was nervous to stand in front of a congregation and deliver a sermon. But if I prepared well and so had something to say (and breathed slowly at the start), I could overcome my nerves.
As an undergraduate student at Jamaica Theological Seminary, I soon found myself invited to speak at other churches throughout the island, both to youth groups and in Sunday worship.
During my undergraduate years I would often meet with fellow-students to help them figure out the class material and think through the significance of what they were learning. For my senior-year internship I requested (and was granted) two non-credit courses to teach, which were sponsored by the Seminary for the wider community.
Then in Canada during graduate school I taught multiple non-credit courses through campus ministry groups at various universities in South-Western Ontario (University of Toronto, McMaster University, University of Guelph, Brock University). When I came to study in the United States I taught similar courses in upstate New York (Syracuse University, University of Rochester, Cornell University).
I also served as teaching assistant for philosophy courses at the University of Guelph and for theology courses at Colgate Rochester Divinity School.
Throughout my graduate studies I continued to preach and lead Bible studies, and often spoke at campus ministry events at different universities, including chapels, workshops, retreats, and camps in Canada and the U.S.
The upshot is that long before I ever taught my first official credit course as an adjunct lecturer (at Redeemer University College, in Hamilton, Ontario), I knew that teaching was in my blood.
Teaching and learning intertwined
While working on my PhD at the Institute for Christian Studies (Toronto), I taught graduate courses in the Masters program (nine in all). By this time it was simply inconceivable that I not teach. Teaching and learning had become inextricably intertwined for me.
The synergy of teaching and learning continued after I got my first full-time teaching job at Colgate Rochester Divinity School (now Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School).
During my graduate teaching at Colgate, followed by teaching mostly undergraduates at Roberts Wesleyan College, and now back to graduate students at Northeastern Seminary, I have found that the discipline of interacting with others around important ideas and texts has shaped and honed my own learning profoundly.
A great deal of my motivation (and delight) as a teacher comes from seeing students rise to the challenge and join me on the journey of exploration that I’ve invited them on.
But blogging is different
But teaching is one thing. Blogging is quite another.
For years friends and colleagues have encouraged me to blog. Now my Seminary has encouraged me to set up a blogging site.
But its hard to blog when you’re an introvert.
Today I am no longer shy (how that change happened is a story for another time). I haven’t been shy for a while.
But I am (as I always have been) definitely an introvert on the Myers Briggs scale.
This means that I need lots of private, solitary time to thrive.
Introverts need time to recharge their batteries between times when they’re with people.
So I tend to lay low for as long as I can, and only surface for connection with people when needed. This connection includes more than just teaching courses; there are meetings with students outside of class, there are faculty and committee meetings, and sometimes just having a cup of coffee with a colleague or friend.
Truth be told, I love people and get a lot out of social interaction.
But it also takes a lot out of me. I find spending time even with good friends leaves me needing solitude so I can be recharged emotionally.
But blogging—that puts you in public view all the time. And you have to be constantly sharing bits of yourself. And I’m a very private person.
How I came to blog
I’m not sure I can do this. That’s what I told the friends and colleagues who have been challenging me to join the human race (a.k.a enter the Blogosphere).
But they kept encouraging me: You don’t have to expose your every thought. You can post your reflections at discrete (and discreet) intervals.
And you can keep the blogs short.
Which sounds good, since it means that I don’t have to spend too much time blogging. But which might be a problem, since once I get hold of an idea, I tend to have a bit of a go at it (hence the length of this first blog).
Alright, I said; I’m willing to try. After all, I do have things to say, ideas to explore.
Just so long as no-one expects me to tweet too.
Oh, didn’t we mention that?
My next post will explain the name of this website and what sorts of posts you can expect.