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)
I shared the rough curriculum I had established for working with a journalism club at a neighborhood school before my time there was cut short.
Just a week after I took a full-time job and told the club’s adviser that I’d have to take a bit of a sabbatical from my time there, I wanted to give a primer to have a conversation about the basics of journalism with her students.
In fewer than ten minutes, I tried to bottle an entire journalism degree into five bullet points. Clearly I missed plenty.
Below, see what I shared. Let me know what giant holes these high school kids will have in their foundation because of my failures!
Every Thursday, I would come and give a lesson, and the following Monday, the students would use what we talked about and put it into practice by getting out of the classroom and shuttling around the school.
With Pioneer Times adviser Beth Ziegenfus, I established a rough curriculum time line, which you can see below and the details of which I hope to continue to share here.
So, I was excited to take some time away from my freelancing work once a week to work with the journalism club at Frankford High School. It was a short walk, and I could just fill in the time lost at night.
I was suddenly the professional journalist half of a Prime Movers program that formerly had me as the student journalist.
I made it a half dozen Thursday after-school meetings, enough to meet the core group of seven or so students and help them launch a WordPress blog for their content, but some rather large, fairly unexpected changes have happened.
So, now I’m reaching out to a host of colleagues to fill as many of the coming weeks with insightful professional journalists (if you’re in Philly and are interested, contact me). Still, though I’ve worked with high school journalism clubs before and only worked with the Pioneer Times of FHS for a couple months, I certainly learned a thing or too — in addition to, I hope, teaching some of those kids something.
You’re supposed to learn from teaching, or something like that.
I suppose with that knowledge in hand, I knew I’d learn something when, two years ago, I first walked into the Franklin Learning Center, a magnet high school in the Spring Garden neighborhood of Philadelphia.
I was there to help launch a student newspaper. I, too, was a student, writing for The Temple News, the college newspaper of Temple University.