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On Writing a Book, Part 1: The Same Aims

By Dave Stuart Jr.

First, let me say thank you for caring to read my posts on writing. Feel free to ask me anything about the process in the comments section.

Five years of blogging while teaching and teaching while blogging have taught me that it's not my calling to write the next mega-edu-website with the latest fancy design or cute logo or slick scheme or punchy title. I can't tell you the last time I cared about how many views my site gets or how many followers I have on Twitter. My blog isn't my exit plan, and I shudder at the thought of quitting my day job. I'm thankful for people who step away from the classroom to devote more time to writing about teaching, but I'm not gifted like that.

The great news with this is that I don't have pressure to build something popular — I can just focus on building something good, something that helps.

Teachers, too, ought not to submit to the pressure to make a popular classroom. In teaching, popularity is a low-value goal; credibility, on the other hand, is a worthy one. We don't need to be the popular teacher; we need to be a good one. In striving toward popularity, we convince ourselves of a world of scarcity — after all, there can only be so many “favorite” teachers. But in striving toward credibility, toward being someone who's good at the work, means creating a world of abundance. There is always room for another good teacher — a school can be 100% full of them. I love that. There's room.

So too, I think there's always room for another good, helpful book. That's what I'm working on, something that I hope will be a good, helpful book. Just as every ounce of energy I expend in my classroom is toward the long-term flourishing of my students, so too every moment in front of this book over the past few months has been toward the long-term flourishing of us teachers. Many of these moments have been hard, frustrating. Elon Musk once said that starting a business is like “eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”* I can't say that writing this book has been quite that colorful, but just like teaching, it's certainly not a cakewalk.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that in my classroom we are all about becoming better thinkers, readers, writers, speakers, and people. At the end of the day, that's our tack toward long-term flourishing, whether I'm teaching English or history. And that's the tack of this book, too. I want us to get better at burrowing in to the ultimate aim of our work and the simple — dare I say timeless — means for working toward that noble peak.

*Thank you to Ryan Holiday for sharing this quote in his book Perennial Seller, and to Jim Burke for pointing me toward Holiday's work just when I needed it.

2 Responses to On Writing a Book, Part 1: The Same Aims

  1. Carmen Munnelly September 2, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    Appreciating you over here in San Diego– just letting you know. Your journeys, endeavors, research, and transparency have been endlessly helpful to me. You go, Dave.

  2. semslibrarylady September 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

    Dave, I think one of the reasons I continue to enjoy, share and learn from your blog (and soon, your book!) is that you are still in the classroom. We recently had a “globally recognized” speaker at our school, and while he was funny and inspirational, most teachers said they wanted hands on examples. It’s great to tell us to start this or add that, but Mr. Global Speaker was hopping on another plane and delivering the same speech the next day, not in a classroom with 35-40 students with varying needs and abilities. So keep chewing on that glass! You inspire me!

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