If you can’t describe what you do to a child, you don’t actually know what you do.
Sure, in an era of disruption and distraction, we are changing and evolving roles and organizations and missions rapidly enough that to kids and even other adults outside our industries, the details can get fuzzy. But the idea here is that your core purpose has almost surely been seen before.
So can you describe what you do at its simplest form?
I got this challenge when I agreed to do a Career Day this month at Adaire, a public K-8 school in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia in which I live. (The school has a fun history dating to the 1890s, including the above-depicted first building and a more conventional one used today)
A dense, 30-minute look at the past, present and future of education reform in the United States was the focus of a presentation by the celebrated University of Pennsylvania professor Ted Hershberg last week.
Though his lecture was part of a class I’m taking that is officially off-the-record, because I know Hershberg’s work through a friend of mine who is part of his research team and what he said follows what he often speaks on, I thought it was okay to share what I felt was a helpful top-level look at the problems and opportunities.
For context, Hershberg is an open left-of-center thinker, but he has a reputation for being an outspoken critic of the teacher’s unions. I share some easy-to-digest notes below.
I can remember annoying even my patient parents by always asking ‘why,’ to follow any experience or discussion. Sometimes I would ask ‘why’ to be a brat, but most often I found my mind trying to play out whatever circumstances would follow and discovered that I rarely knew what was next.
So I was likely curious by nature. Still, there was a second step in my developing a love for learning.
In my sophomore year of high school, I sat next to a networked printer in my math class. That printer was apparently the default printing choice for a variety of nearby classes. As you might expect, people would regularly print to that printer, not know where it is and then try again. The result was a regular stream of random class essays, research papers, academic articles and, yes, people’s personal poems.
Two hundred fifty students from the largely troubled neighborhoods of North Philadelphia will receive full, four-year scholarships to neighobring Temple University, my alma mater, during the next decade, as the Inquirer reported.
It’s a generous effort from a major urban research university often called on for more outreach in its surrounding communities. Good things, warm stories and, surely, great public relations will come as a result. Of a student population numbering nearly 30,000, 250 may seem small, but it’s always worth valuing.
“[Temple] should have given full-day preschool from birth and full-day kindergarten to 250 neighboring kids and intensive parental training to 250 neighborhood new parents 18 years ago. That would have been more effective and ultimately cheaper.” – Dan Pohlig
Temple, of course, is a university, so offering those scholarships have precedence there. This is a fine act, but there are bigger issues and more interesting approaches to take on.
But, you can rest assured that I tried to learn as much as I could with my time there about the social services work and agencies on which our mission and some of my colleagues focused. I was blessed with serving a role that let me meet, speak and share with more of our members than most any of our staff, outside those serving direct care.
I encouraged our staff to use our blog as a way to share homelessness news, and I myself curated weekly news roundups on the subject. I also picked the brains of anyone I came in contact with in or outside ‘the system’ as it is often called.
Given all that, I thought I might share just some of what comes to mind as take aways and lessons from the world of homelessness, particularly in Philadelphia.
It gives us culture. It is a way to pay remembrance for those who came before. Yes, it’s a little bit fun.
In the world of news, there is a lot of tradition that needs to be lost. Unquestioned impartiality, balance without real context, an ignorance and distance of what funds it, a rigid belief in a strictly reactionary audience.
But, I’ve always felt, there is lot to be taken in from the past. I’ve been blessed to work alongside some talented and hungry older journalists who have imparted great wisdom on me. I thought some of that tradition was worth sharing as, in my own way, I try to preserve the best of it.
Below, find 25 pieces of advice about being a newsman that I take great value in.
Above, TED co-founder Chris Anderson talks about the impact of Youtube and other online video has on the world.
Youtube was a powerful part of moving forward content dissemination on the web. Suddenly there was a free place to host, distribute and embed easily video that drove traffic and audience.
About which time Youtube was overwhelmed with kitten videos, personal photos looped under copyrighted music and clips of everything in between.
But, through all the muck, there is brilliance. That much I’ve found since I first clicked on a Youtube link in an email in my college sophomore year apartment and shared with my roommate. Universities are beginning to share lectures online, and more teachers, lessons and ideas are spreading on Youtube. (Perhaps not as much as kitten videos)
To prove there is more than the nonsense, below, I share the 10 videos that have made the biggest impact on me and the lessons I took from them.
I openly admit some forms of them already are and that many colleges have wonderful professors looking forward and doing great work with them. Still, I stand by the conversation being an important one — needling great institutions further.
I am on month five of full-time, professional freelancing. I think only now am I finding the hum and the rhythm of this craft, particularly in the doldrums of a sour economy and struggling print industry.
You’re a college journalist, unsure about the future. So, tell me, why aren’t you trying to make in-roads in freelancing now?
I think it’s a sin if you aren’t at least contributing to your college newspaper – it’s a great, college experience, it’s challenging and a wonderful incubator for insight and vision. But, I think you need to be doing more.
Get that internship, sure, but if you don’t have one, or perhaps even if you do, you should be developing contacts and knowledge for the freelance game – because it’s a better back up than waiting tables.