3 Reasons Why I'm Wearing A Tie (I Think)

What are you wearing?

March 27, 2014

This morning, like most mornings, I put on a tie and went to work.

Do you wear a tie (or the equivalent of a tie) to campus?  

Sartorial choices are not new topics of discussion in our community.  See here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The difference in this post is that I have no clothing advice for you.  

Mostly, I’m writing this to figure out for myself why I find myself so often wearing this ridiculous piece of cloth to work.

Do you do that also, write primarily to figure out your own thinking?

I’m probably the last person that should be talking about fashion. Anybody that possesses a wardrobe purchased almost exclusively on Amazon has no business saying almost anything about clothing.

So why do I wear a tie most days?

Possible Tie Reason #1: Maybe I’m signaling that I’m safe, sound, and reliable?

Much of my job is about trying to create change. The big secret about educational technology is that technology is not all that interesting. What is interesting is the opportunity to work with lots of academic people (faculty, librarians, and staff) to improve learning, increase access, and hopefully get control of costs.  

Technology is sometimes a lever. Usually a conversation starter. I’m thinking that showing up in a tie to a discussion where we are trying to do new things says that I am also cautious, safe, and dependable. If a conservative (and basically boring) colleague is pushing for change then maybe we have a better chance of trying something new.

Possible Tie Reason #2: Perhaps I’m saying that I respect tradition and hierarchy?

We love our traditions in higher ed.  Anyone that does not get some sort of kick out having one foot in the 12th century and another in the 21st is probably not going to thrive in higher ed.  On some level it makes me deeply happy to think that people have been engaging in small and large dramas on my campus for the past 245 years or so, and that these dramas will continue on for the next 245 (and on).

Anyone working at the intersection of learning and technology is working for change. I think that what attracted so many of us to a life working in technology is the fact that we can witness, and sometimes contribute to, the process of rapid change. Pairing the rapidly evolving world’s of technology with the tradition bound structures and culture of higher education makes for a continually interesting and dynamic workplace. Perhaps by putting on a tie (or the equivalent) we signal a respect for traditions (however outmoded and non-rationale), respect that gives us some license to push for change.

Possible Tie Reason #3: Is it that I’m not as brave or as independent minded as many of you (those not wearing a tie)?

Let’s stipulate something right here and now. There is in all likelihood an inverse relationship between tie wearing and independent, creative thinking. Maybe that is putting the case too strongly. All I know is that I’ve noticed over the course of my career that the people that I tend to admire the most, and who I think are most valuable to our colleges and universities, are some of the least frequent tie wearers around.

What are you are wearing? And why?


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