Re: So what do you d

Subject: Re: So what do you d
From: Win Day <winday -at- CML -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 15 Feb 1995 19:19:12 -0500

To: techwr-l -at- vm1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu

BB> You know the most important thing of all: how people learn.

BB> Nobody seems to pay any attention to this, but it is how we decide
BB> what to present, how to present it, what medium, what look and feel
BB> - so much more. Few of us have the qualifications, even though it
BB> is, or should be, the very first thing we study.
BB> I studied biology and education (I think the latter is a social
BB> science), and taught elementary school for a short while. In one of
BB> my education courses, I learned how to print the alphabet with
BB> textbook neatness so that I could write clearly on the blackboard.
BB> Since then, I often write my editorial comments in the same neat
BB> letters on the papers I mark up. Compositors have complimented me
BB> more than once on the clarity of my markups. In addition, figuring
BB> out how to present material to children in the classroom resembles
BB> writing instructions for adults: both require step-by-step logic,
BB> clarity, and an understanding of the material.

I agree wholeheartedly. One of the best reality checks I have is to go
to one of my kids' classes and explain what I did as an engineer. If I
can explain how an oil refinery works to a bunch of 8-year-olds, I'm
well on the way to being able to write the operating manuals so that the
high-school-educated operators can follow them...

I try to give as much of my writing my "mom" test. I used to be able to
explain my engineering studies and later engineering work to my mother,
who although very bright is not terribly well-educated. If I can explain
something so she could understand it, I've probably covered most of my

The trick is to do that without sounding condescending. Again, go talk
to a high school class. You won't get away with it for very long.

Win Day
Email winday -at- cml -dot- com

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