17 January 2006

On being (over) prepared

One thing about being semi-retired is that you have more time. Or at least you do if you are stuck in the house waiting all day for a delivery (of joinery supplies, of course) which never came.

So I spent the day preparing for a session tomorrow, standing in for a colleague, with final year undergraduates whom I have not yet met. It's on "transformative learning". It's a fascinating topic, which reaches out in all directions, and so it was not difficult to spend the day looking things up in books and journals and the net, and putting together the presentation. Then I had to impose some order on all the stuff I wanted to convey...

Uh-oh! Dangerous! Having spent the best part of forty years never having enough time to prepare, I know that this could well be the kiss of death for this session. What I want to convey? That's the way novice teachers think; and it is ironic that given ample time to prepare a two-hour session, I fall back into that trap. 44 slides? No. It is a recipe for disaster.

I have at least learned something about how PowerPoint can prepare a "summary slide", but still requires you to enter hyperlinks manually, so I am free from its dreaded inexorable bullet points (it's an oldie, but see Edward Tufte on this) but will I feel compelled to use the stuff because I have it, regardless of whether the students can/want to take it in?

I'm posting this now as a hostage to fortune. I could edit it tomorrow, but I promise not to; but I will report on how I actually handled the session.


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