Reading, Writing, Reliability…

It’s probably not the three R’s you were expecting.

Reading – you’re doing that right now (unless you absorb blog posts by osmosis) and it’s what students need to practice. It’s astonishing to me how little time students are spending reading… not just on class assignments, but also on relevant topics and the world at large.

This lack of interest shows up in assignments and in writing. Written communication skills are necessary in most walks of life. If you want to learn to write, first you need to read. I collect writers, both in printed form and on the Internet (see this page for writers I enjoy). Just as you become a better reader with practice, so too do writing skills improve with repetition (as long as you’re not typing the same stuff over and over).

Reliability… the “soft” skill. If you tell me you’re interested in starting a web design business, and then take two or three weeks to return an email, well… I can’t recommend you to any business I stumble across. If you tell me you’re unemployed and looking for work and then don’t follow up on phone messages… I wish these were anomalies, but they’re not. They’re typical.

And that is a very sad state of affairs indeed.

Ruminations on a semester finished…

Summer School is over. Done. Kaput.

This was an experiment, on two levels. One, for me to take a course prior to teaching same; and second, adapting a semester-long course into a six-week quickie version.

Note to self: do not teach advanced classes during a six-week session. There is not enough time for the knowledge to sink in – the eureka moment arrives a bit late for most students.

Second note to self: students do not necessarily recall much if anything useful from prior semesters; even down to the trivia of how to log in to computers in our Hands-On-Lab (procedure has been the same for six years now). Do not expect students to have practiced any of the skills taught in prior courses.

Taking a class in preparation to teach it was an eye-opener. I have a much better idea of where the confusing parts are, which parts will be easy, and how problematic a lecture-intensive class is for non-native English speakers.

I do hope the students this fall read the book before class. It makes it easier on me and they’re more likely to pass the quizzes…