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« When you don't really want to be right... | Main | Revisiting web-based class information »
Wednesday
Sep292010

Is blogging hazardous to your career?

Scott McLeod in a Dangerously Irrelevant post, "I misunderstood the technology" quotes a professor Todd Henderson who believes "I misunderstood the technology, and the consequences are devastating for me personally." I applaud Henderson's honesty about underestimating the power of online communications (although I can't quite figure out what actual damage Henderson suffered that has caused him to quit blogging).

I truly wonder how many of us really DO understand "the technology?" If it is even possible to understand the impact of blogging, social networking, online reading and continuous connectivity on our careers, on our personal relationships, on the overall quality of our lives given how recently these things have become available. Books like The Shallows are beginning to explore some of these questions, but it seems like some potential negatives are predictable. (See: Blogging and a little common sense.)

One hazard is the negative impact of a public voice on one's career. I'll maintain that if you are a boat-rocker, a change agent, a questioner, a rabble-rouser, a radical in your online writings about your profession, your chances of getting a job and advancing in your career is jeopardized. In education especially, the people doing the hiring are conservative*. They may want someone who can remodel their home; they don't want someone who will burn it down and rebuild it.

Those who continue to advocate for radical change in education** fall into three categories: the clueless, the protected, and the courageous. Cluelessness and courage need little explanation; the protected include tenured educators, independent consultants, and professional pundits.

I applaud the courageous. We need more of you folks. But remember, it is only risk that makes you courageous in the first place.

* Schools are run by those who were successful in traditional schools.
** I do not include myself in this group.

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Reader Comments (8)

I think you can challenge the status quo as long as you are objective and non partisan. For example, our education system is from the agricultural age and it hasn't made it to the industrial age yet let alone the information age. If you drink only from the liberal or conservative media, you will not know both sides of the argument and you will get stuck as someone who wears only one T-Shirt. DrDougGreen.Com

September 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Green

As I blog, I keep remembering the advice of some old curmudgeon who reminded me at least once to praise locally, complain globally. It's helped me often in staying out of trouble with the powers that be in my career. Now, who was that curmudgeon....? ;)

September 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

I challenge all sorts of things, but I try to do so in a respectful way. I never use names to criticize, rather I try to attack the idea presented as a thing on its own. I suppose that's why I am not a particularly courageous blogger. Well, I will admit to the odd "stab" now and again. And I derive a fair to middlin' amount of glee from watching many of said "stabs" going well over the heads of the intended recipients. As always, a pleasure to have you share your posts with us, Doug.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd Wandio

As usual, a thoughtful post from you, Doug. That previous post of yours (Blogging and a Little Common Sense) is a classic that I still refer back to now and then; every educator who blogs should read that! Love the comment above from Cathy... =)

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott McLeodz

The link to blogging and a little common sense is broken. :(

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

** I resemble that disclaimer.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill

I'm going to echo Doug Green above...

My first blogging was in the context of a fairly brutal professional battle to preserve a very special school. Yes, I was a tenured teacher, and I leaned on that status pretty heavily at that time. But I aspired to district-level work, and the key was to keep the rhetoric non-personal, and data-focused. I had many folks angry with me - very angry - including some members of our board, but the quality of the rhetoric left me personally in pretty good shape, and those very angry board members are close colleagues today as I now work in the capacity to which I had once aspired. Data, and clear argument, are friends of change and eventual good will.

September 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBill

Hi Doug,

Radical ideas even proposed in non-radical language are still threatening to some, I feel. But yes, non-partisanship is helpful.

Thanks for the comment,

Doug

Hi Todd,

I am pretty sure most of know better than to single out individuals. I am guessing that even generic criticisms, proposed changed would still ruffle some feathers.

I don't say don't do it. Just do it with your eyes open and prepared to accept the consequences!

Doug

Hi Bill,

I expect you have some very special communication skills. And I really do hope your experience is the rule; not the exception to it.

Doug

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Johnson

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