Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teaching what you have known so long you can't teach it.

I come from a proud line of teachers.
And I'm proud of them too.

My father Elof Carlson with his 50,000 former Bio 101 students, 99.2% of them grateful. And I run into them. And they tell me his was one of their very favorite classes at Stony Brook or he inspired them to teach with his dramatic, at times funny, and warm style or his class led to a change of major and the career they now embrace. Certainly he won awards for his teaching. My mother Helen Carlson taught, with wit and ripostes, more in the The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie style, but her favorites were inspired and the students she publicly whipped with sarcasm (for not doing the work or paying attention), I am sure they didn't forget her or the poems she was explicating.

My step-mother Nedra has a masters in teaching. My sister Christina has a teaching masters and taught for many years. My brother John was a teacher. My brother Anders is about to turn to teaching full time. With this background, it is easy to see why I thought I was qualified to teach without any training or experience whatsoever.


I have now discovered a corollary, the more years you have been immersed in a profession and it's tools and jargon, the less able you are to remember what it was like to know nothing and explain it in plain English. I have been trying to describe what I do to Jim. I have been trying to tell clients why things are Done A Certain Way.


Teachers of the world, I salute you.

Last night I attended a terrific well attended free seminar at Noble Desktop. For two hours Daniel Rodney explained how websites can be built more efficiently, using Dreamweaver software and cascading style sheets. But it was way more than a pitch for taking classes in software. He managed to give an overview of how all projects can be better managed when they are better planned. That this method of building sites allows for the minimum fuss and time in making changes. That his approach frees him to try things, allows him to be more creative as well as efficient.

As we talked about it over a Wendy's dinner with our friend Michael, the three of us were inspired. Enjoyed the concepts. Felt excited about the possibility of working in the way Dan showed us. Now that is teaching.

Wish I could send all my clients to Dan's seminars for an overview. Then they'd stop saying, could you just change this or that, I'm sure it won't take long. They'd know which was a lot and which was a little work. But no, I can't send them all to Dan the Man. I have to be the Dan. I am going to remember how he explained things. Clients, I will do my best to use regular words, not webspeak, so we can talk about the jobs I'm doing for you. I will channel my inner Dan.

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