You might not think knowing entrepreneurial skills could help educators become better, but some might beg to differ. SmartBlogs recently released “6 Entrepreneurial Skills That Can Make Us Better Educators” to help educators apply these skills to become better at what they do best: educate.
One skill that is important and useful for everyone: “Develop relationships with mentors with different kinds of expertise.” Essentially, network with everyone and anyone.
“Entrepreneurs find mentors at different stages of their careers and in different fields.” It doesn’t matter what stage you’re in, you can always benefit from meeting and keeping in touch with new people that can help give you advice and new perspectives.
As Professional Writers, we have learned about graphic design and different types of lettering and typography. We are supposed to know what makes for a good graphic and how to design an appealing and inviting poster/brochure/pamphlet/bookmark/etc. But do we all know the difference between Lettering and Typography?
Smashing Magazine posted an article explaining the differences and similarities between Typography and Lettering, stating that many designers, despite making “their careers our of designing type or custom lettering,” have come with “a lot of misunderstandings of some of the terms and concepts that we use.”
You can read the very thorough article for yourself, but basically, it says, “Typography is essentially the study of how letterforms interact on a surface, directly relating to how the type will be set when it eventually goes to press” where as “Lettering can be simply defined as “the art of drawing letters.”” Confused? Lettering started out as being hand drawn, such as calligraphy or like those giant Bibles that monks spent years and years writing out by hand. Typography has much to do with setting and aligning the type. For example, “Instead of setting metal type and locking in forms [to create newspapers or books like they did with old printing presses], we use panels in [Adobe] Illustrator or InDesign to kern, add leading and align our type.”
The article also explains the history of typography and lettering, and gives tips on how you can get started on your own hand-lettering as well as a list of websites with lettering and typography designs.
We all know writing is tough. Fiction writing, research writing, non-fiction writing, journalism. Even if you love to write, as I do, I still agree writing is hard. The New Yorker recently published an article asking, “Is Writing Torture?” The article went on to explain about a current “quarrel between Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) and (indirectly) Philip Roth” after a few months ago, Roth declared “he’d quit writing.”
Read the article and decide for yourself, but writers don’t write to become famous or make a lot of money. “[Y]ou do it because, for whatever reason, you believe in it, and you believe in it because, for whatever reason, you need to believe in it.” I think every writer who loves writing will agree with that.
Recently, there have been discussions among university educators about the future of the humanities degree. Some are calling for graduate programs to be bigger, allowing for more choices; others, as is the case with Stanford, are trying to continue “fostering the debate with an emphasis on shortening time to degree for humanities Ph.D.s.”
Dean of MSU’s College of Arts and Letters, Karin A. Wurst, recently wrote a lengthy and intensive article for Inside Higher Ed about what constitutes as a “proper size of arts and humanities graduate programs.” She asks “What is meant by Right-Sized?” and talks about a “T-Shaped Education” and makes remarks as to possible solutions to helping create better graduate programs.
“By right-sized, I mean a frame of reference based on quantitative and qualitative factors like the following:
- the demand in the field
- the placement rate of the unit
- the number of applications to the program […]”
She continues to discuss what questions should be asked when figuring out the “right-size” for a graduate program and proceeds to discuss different environments and suggestions for how graduates can utilize the shortened time-length to their advantage.
For those working towards a humanities degree as well as future applicants, it will be interesting to see what happens in the future for these programs.
Justin Kemp does. He created a workspace that lets him go to the beach all the time and still get work done at home. He calls it “Surfing With the Sands Between My Toes.” What a clever play on words. Everyone needs to go get themselves a “sandbox workstation.”
We have all seen some unfortunate marketing decisions, poorly designed advertisements, and even bad graphic designs. What happens when these bad graphic designs are supposed to inform the public of dangers ahead? Partly meant to be some comic analysis, Thought Catalog contributor, Mat Devine, went through a series of poorly designed “Danger” signs, explaining what they really mean. Some do not always mean, “In Case of Fire, Use Stairs.”
When Toni Morrison talks, you listen. Like her novels, “her voice draws you in, and before you know it, you’re part of a world all her own that she has given you the privilege of joining for a short time.” Open Culture recently wrote an article about some wisdom Ms. Morrison gave to aspiring writers during an interview with The Paris Review. Some include:
- “Write when you know you’re at your best.”
- “Don’t write with an audience in mind, write for the characters.”
- “Be yourself, but be aware of tradition.”
Check out the rest of her writerly wisdom and be sure to read her interview with The Paris Review.
In my last blog entry, I outlined a brief history of basic writing and outlined several questions that have been on the table in our first year writing program. Let’s get to work on the first question: How do we redress the imperfect educational system of remediation within an imperfect educational system of the United States? Okay, so I’m answering my blog’s title question with another question.
First, remedial writing programs takes different shapes at two- or four-year colleges, and Masters- or PhD- granting universities. The difference rests primarily in the background and needs of students enrolled in these classes. Students entering community colleges may be immigrants with varied educational history, first generation students whose training in U.S. schools didn’t prepare them for college, high school drop outs, returning adults, and lifelong learners. Though writing classes in two-year colleges often have the goal of preparing students to succeed in advanced writing classes, a recent study of 100,000 two-year college students in urban areas suggests that these efforts could better focus on writing needed in workplaces. In two-year colleges, these programs have come into question because of their cost, qualified success, and educational goals: why prepare students to write for advanced, college writing classes when the students’ intent is to find jobs in the skilled labor market?
Students seeking degrees beyond the Associate’s degree often place in remedial classes after taking an entrance exam. These students have high school diplomas, are the best students to have graduated from their schools, have histories of academic achievement, and may be international or heritage language speakers. Many graduated from the K-12 education in the US system, which has seen educational goals limited to teaching to the test thanks to Bush era educational policies. Small wonder there’s been alarming increase in numbers of students needing remedial writing classes.
All this focus on the student who needs the kinds of educational opportunities an intensive writing course prevents policy makers and program administrators from turning our attention to “fixing” the student. This focus on the student places the onus to change solely on the students. But let’s also consider teachers, teacher trainers, and the institution of schooling. Now, I’m not saying that K-12 teachers are to blame for underprepared students. If we want to address the problem systematically as a country, we need educational reform in K-12 settings that 1) increases the number of qualified teachers in classrooms, 2) equally provides resources to schools, 3) allows for varied forms of writing assignments and not just those appropriate to score well on tests (5 paragraph essays), and 4) we need to respect teachers and train them well to meet the challenges of schooling. There are more ways to reform, of course, but these would be a good place to start.
We think there’s another place to begin this work as well—the place where future teachers and professors get trained, or not, to do their educational work in the first place. How are our preservice teachers and instructors of first generation students trained to build upon students’ knowledge and learning as they interact with content? What can we do better?
At MSU, we want to do our part in contributing to educational reform by refocusing our efforts on training future teachers and university instructors. Instead of focusing on what students’ lack, we’re focusing on what we as teachers and teacher trainers owe to students. We think there’s systemic reproduction of teachers who were taught the content areas of their disciplines, but haven’t learned how to teach students this content.
So we did what universities and policy makers do. We set up a committee. The Preparation for College Writing Sub-Committee of the First Year Writing committee created two innovations in our preparatory classes that we’re now piloting. First, we hoped to better address the curricular needs of our students through asset-based, culturally sustaining pedagogies; and second, we hoped to promote teacher inquiry and innovation by placing preservice teachers in our writing classes. The idea is that these preservice teachers can act as peer mentors and teachers-in-training at once, while the instructors gain an opportunity to innovate their practice through engaging these preservice teachers in reflective practice. The preservice teachers work with the instructor to engage in activities and classroom work around the rich reading and writing assignments of a college writing class, that they in turn can use in their future high school classrooms. I’ll explore findings from this pilot project in my next blog posting.