Welcome back, Freddy

    by Freddy Hiebert | September 11, 2009

    Some of you may remember that ’70s show—Welcome back, Kotter! Well…I’m welcoming myself back to writing Frankly Freddy.

    Why, after a three-year hiatus, would I resurrect this column? One reason is that I’ve joined a cooperative work space here in Santa Cruz (NextSpace Coworking + Innovation). It’s like a combined coffee shop and set of graduate student offices. What I mean by this is that there are open spaces where the “graduate students” work (those are the cafe members like me). There are offices on the perimeter like those of the professors (who, in this case, are principals in a number of philanthropic and entrepreneurial organizations). There are seminars (but not mandatory like graduate school). And, yes, there is a weekly Friday afternoon happy hour.

    I’ve joined one of the informal networking groups that eats breakfast together on Thursday mornings while members update their blogs and tweets. I’ve always wanted to be part of a group where you came together for a focused period of time with the goal of producing some writing (I’ve always thought that this would be a good use of faculty meeting time in universities). I have Mahesh Grossman of the Authors Team for starting the “blog/breakfast/Thursday” group and for getting me back to thinking about Frankly Freddy. I don’t see Frankly Freddy as a blog (mostly because I’d hate to have to define blog). I see Frankly Freddy as more of a column.

    But the most basic reason that I’m returning to Frankly Freddy is that I have some new ideas that I’d really like to share. Let me make it clear that I’m not suggesting that I haven’t had ideas in the past. There is lots of fodder for discussion in the set of Frankly Freddy columns from 2006. But, having had a landmark birthday in 2008, I’m finding that I’ve got a renewed energy for reading education. I’ve published two edited collections over the past two years and am in the process of writing a new one.

    In addition to these ideas, however, I’ve got some topics that I’m very interested in but am not yet ready to write about in a formal academic venue. I’ve worked hard on the topic of fluency over the past decade and am coming to recognize the importance of fluency in communicating well in writing. I need some venues in which I can try out some ideas. Writing this column seems easier than going to an airport and flying somewhere to give a presentation.

    I’m fairly confident that I can commit to a monthly Frankly Freddy. Perhaps if my fellow writers at blog/breakfast/Thursdays teach me what blogging is, I will write more often. But for now the commitment is to a monthly column.

    The first real new column follows: Everyday Events: Bringing Rich Talk to Classrooms. In it, I describe the rationale for this very exciting feature of the textproject and quickreads websites.

    I’d also extend a welcome back to school to you. Here’s to a year of learning and a curiosity about new information and words.