student exercieses (was BAD classroom exercises)

Subject: student exercieses (was BAD classroom exercises)
From: "Kahn, Stacey" <skahn -at- WB -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 13:14:30 U

Dan Fiero (dfierro -at- lanier -dot- com) writes:
> As a Technical Writer working on my Masters in TCOM I would be very
> bored and impatient with an exercise asking me to write a procedure'
> for tying my shoes or making my three-year-old's lunch.

> Assignment rating at a Master's level
> Point - - Noted
> Value - - None

> As an Undergraduate I would have completed the assignment,
> taken my "A", and hoped for a more meaty assignment on the next
> go-round.

As a working tech writer this attitude worries me. The point of these =
exercises isn't to teach you new skills in shoe-tieing or lunch-making. =
The point is to teach you how to describe a series of actions.

I hope that the scorn you feel for the reader who can't make a sandwich =
doesn't presage the scorn you'll feel for anyone who knows so little that =
she has to read your instructions.

A big part of good tech writing is making the material inviting, =
easy-to-read/use, and complete, *without demeaning the reader*. By the =
time I finish a user manual, I generally know how to operate the framis =
about as well as I tie my shoes. That doesn't necessarily make any given =
project any less challenging.

The overall mediocrity of instructions indicates, to me, that these =
lessons in presenting "simple" information are indeed necessary for at =
least some working tech writers.

--Stacey Kahn Washington, DC
SKahn -at- wb -dot- com
speaking for myself and not for my employers

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