The art of STFU

I’ve not blogged for quite a while. Partly that’s workload, partly an impact of relentless tiredness, but also partly a sense of not feeling I have much to contribute. This post really is not a plea for you to say “no Martin, please keep blogging” (I probably will we all know that), but rather a repositioning of how one sees oneself when you reach a certain age (and particularly if you’re a white guy).

You can call to mind your favourite “has an opinion on everything” ageing male ed tech blogger/speaker/commentator for this (it might be me). It seems that whatever people publish or do, there they are, letting you know why it’s wrong or how they would have done it better. I see this particularly with people who used to be a big name but now the world has moved on from the height of their influence. If you’ve made your keynote reputation on having opinions on everything, it’s hard to shake that behaviour (and keep up the employment). There is a new wave of ed tech people who get those gigs now and the concerns, experience and framing of the new experts is different (rightly so). So the elderly ed tech statesman either feels the need to dismiss their approach, or offer a critique that might get them at the table also.

And I really don’t want to be that guy. And I don’t want to appropriate the voices of the newer ed tech gang in a bid to stay relevant (like an ageing rock act suddenly deciding they can do rap too). So, I’ve often found myself having some thoughts, mentally composing a blog post and then thinking “no-one needs to hear this. It doesn’t add anything”. In short, STFU is an active choice, and in my view, one that perhaps more people should exercise (and yes, I do get the irony that this is a post about not posting, like all those lectures about the death of the lecture).

There are ways to contribute usefully still I think. I don’t offer this as a prescriptive list as the only conditions under which elderly white men in ed tech can blog, I’m sure there are lots of ways to approach it. But from my position, this is what I feel comfortable with:

  • Using any status you have to promote the work of others who don’t have such a voice
  • Commenting on aspects of your own work (eg from an Open University perspective)
  • Providing some useful historical perspective (not just being dismissive)
  • Punching up, eg criticising politicians, companies, media in how they treat educational technology
  • Long, boring, trivial lists
  • Pictures of dogs

Anyway, I’m off to shout at some clouds.

2 Comments

  1. Keep blogging Martin! by all means select the topics you are interested in and feel comfortable commenting on, but an alternative phrase for “ageing” is “continuing to accrue years of hard won experience”. Keep sharing the wisdom, I am sure you’ll do it sensitively.

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