To blog or not to blog

9 11 2011

This is a difficult question on a number of levels – culturally, generationally and personally. To say that the changes in technology and access to the internet has increased hugely the chances for people to be heard is just a tad self-evident. But to me, it also begs the question, “because I can put my thoughts and opinions out there, should I? “

I remember reading about an Australian multicultural television station, whose slogan is “6 billion stories and counting”, to which one journalist reposted, “ …. But how many are worth telling?” Then there’s the quote from the Stephen Soderbergh film, Contagion, where one of the characters says,  “A blog isn’t writing. It’s graffiti with punctuation.” 

At the risk of a fair generalization, ‘putting it out there’ seems almost un-Australian, at least in the traditional sense. Certainly, when I was growing up, to be seen to be telling people all and sundry was to run the risk of being seen as the proverbial tall poppy ( or mug lair in the vernacular) , and lopping the “tall poppy” was almost a contact sport. Boys didn’t even dare wear white football boots as this clearly establishing yourself as a lair & guaranteed you had a good chance of being cleaned up at some point in the game. While as a nation we now seem to be more comfortable with ourselves being more expressive in public, I think to some extent we still have this attitude towards being seen to “big note” yourself and so starting down this road now makes me somewhat nervous. (Having written this, I now hear on the BBC that Australians spend more time on social media & blogs than any other nation. Perhaps I’m just out of touch.)

In addition, simply having a blog doesn’t necessarily result in a readership. To paraphrase the old saw about the tree falling in the forest & no-one hearing, if you publish a blog & no one reads it, what is the point? On a personal level, I do ask myself, why would anyone necessarily want to read anything I have to say – am I big-noting myself be doing so? Do I really have anything that valuable to say & if I do so in my professional position of principal, do I have the skills & qualities that qualify me to do so? And really, why so much angst?

Certainly there seems to be a generational angle & those people who have grown up with the new world, seem to have little compunction or embarrassment at exposing their thoughts to the wider world. In the end, I’m not sure where one of these blockers ends and the next one starts, so perhaps I should try and answer the question, why am I doing this?

Well, for one very good reason. At our school this year, we are requiring all classroom teachers and students to have a blog & to communicate via this. It’s a bit rich then for me not to do one as well. But it’s not just this. There is a belief that much good learning comes from this sharing of ideas between both teachers and students. We tell the kids they need to be risk takers – I have to leave myself open to this possibility as well. Mind you, at the same time, I have to be aware of the possibility of the perception from some teachers that I might spend too much time blogging or tweeting & not enough on what might be seen as core business.
I can do this at home at night & I was interested to read one blog post that said caustically that teachers & principals might be at home “zoned out” in front of the TV & said this is when they could be blogging. To me that was a tad harsh – as any teacher or harassed principal knows, there are times when we just need to tune out. To hold such a hard line runs the risk of ignoring the reality that people are entitled to private lives – we aren’t all connected all the time. Where, after all, does balance enter the equation? What is relaxing for one is work for another. We always need to be other lookout for the zealot.

So, here goes & hopefully future posts will be both more confident and more literate.