Those who read this blog regularly have likely noticed that I haven't been posting nearly as frequently over the past year or so. During that time, I've given considerable thought to whether or not I should continue to blog in the near future. My main goals over the next year are to: 1.) finish my dissertation, and 2.) get a job. Continuing to blog isn't likely to help me with either. But, after going back and forth for quite some time, I've decided that continuing to blog is, nonetheless, the right decision. Here's why.
As I head to the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association this weekend, I'm reminded of last year's meeting when more than one senior faculty member made it clear that they didn't look too fondly upon grad students and junior faculty wasting their time writing blogs or talking to the press instead of focusing their efforts on the only thing that matters: publishing their work in obscure academic journals. As such, I find the prospect of entering a job market where I have to win the approval of various senior faculty to be somewhat daunting -- particularly while this blog remains active. Any hiring committee that googles my name will find this blog at the top of the search results.
The safe play would likely be to discontinue and delete (to whatever extent that's possible) this blog and everything I've written on it. That way I could be a safe, conventional candidate and step on as few toes as possible. Which, given that we still seem to be mired in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, would probably be a really prudent thing to do.
But, ultimately, I don't want to pretend that I'm someone I'm not. If a department is run by folks who think grad students and junior faculty should behave like 19th century children around the dinner table -- seen, but not heard -- that department probably isn't a good fit for me.
Besides, I think even a cursory glance of my CV and this blog would show where my priorities lie. When I have final exams, paper deadlines, etc., I disappear from the blogosphere. Could I be more productive at all times if I never blogged? Perhaps. But I find that blogging also forces me to sort out my ideas on a regular basis, invites more frequent outside critiques, and exposes me to new ideas and perspectives. And those are the sorts of things that make me a better thinker and more well-rounded human being.
I'll be the first to admit that, like any good academic, I have a bit of an independent streak. I don't want to be beholden to academic conventions any more than any good tenured professor wants to be beholden to his/her dean or board of trustees. So even though I see a million reasons to stop, I won't.
How will hiring committees react to this blog (and possibly this post)? I'm not really sure. I suppose it would be easy to label me a rabble-rouser or an uncommitted academic. But if any hiring committee members are reading this at some point in the future (side note: if they are, they're doing a pretty good job with their background search), I'd hope that they instead would see a student whose curiosity stretches beyond the bounds of academia; someone who enjoys conversing about education policy with others as often as possible; and a future expert in the field whose passion for that field is nearly limitless.
So instead of deleting this blog, or deleting selected posts that might upset people, or simply quitting and swearing off my past activities, I'm just going to continue to do what I've always done: try my best to advance the discussion of educational policy (though I'll likely do so less frequently over the next year or so). Will I regret this decision when I find myself jobless 12 months from now? Perhaps. In the meantime, I look forward to exchanging ideas with all the interesting people who stop by this site and write on others.