Thursday, April 29, 2010

Circling the Subject: Once More

Preparing a class. Reviewing the workbook. Pretending that I'm a skeptical student who asks, "Why should I be here?" and "Why should I care about that?" Revising the workbook yet again and cutting out the parts that I think are interesting but which no one else will. Moving the third section to the start. Watching the pacing and order and packing in just enough case examples and just enough narrative so they won't sit and read and so there is the right combination of generalization and example. Running it by one of my business partners so he can tell me if I'm crazy and so he can catch the confusing spots. Revising it again. Brainstorming again. Staring into space and sipping coffee in a restaurant. Jotting down ways to make the learning flow so everything is in the proper place. Striving to make each part of the puzzle fit so at the end it is no longer a puzzle and they can leave with a healthy confidence that the subject is now their own.

The theme is tightening. The details are jumping into line. A lot of thought can go into making something clear.


Cromagnum said...

Yes it takes alot of hidden work to make a good text. That might be why there is so few.
I believe we need to revive the 1900-1950's textbooks, to learn more basics, and less fluff that we see in the current texts. I use my father's "Industrial Engineering Handbook" (Maynard 1956) more than any other college text for business.

This reminds me of the difficulties of the Computer Age.

It is too simple to delete or re-write. Therefore there is less net thinking that goes into any effort or program.

Compare Architect A designing and drawing by hand, using a drafting table and pencil, with Architect B on a Computer.
'A' will think something through before lifting the pencil, as it takes many hours to fix, or re-draw. 'B' will draw and discard at whim, with less of the whole picture in the brain.
'A' will do quality, with less quantity.
'B' can do more quantity, but quality will be difficult.

In the total cost of the project, A is a bargain.

The Computer Age does have a hidden cost, and it might just be our brain.

Michael Wade said...


I think you are onto something. There are times when you can spot a clear difference between writers who use computers versus those who use typewriters or who write in longhand.

As I recall, Shelby Foote used a steel nib pen and then had a typist type up his work.