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How (probably) not to do things you never thought you could do. 5, April 2007

Posted by babychaos in Adult Content, careers, General Wittering, Life and living, Light Fluff, Work, writing.
Tags: , , ,

Yesterday I tried teaching. Ok so it was a group of 6 business people and I was teaching them about ways to structure copy – basically so it’s easier to write and more to the point, easier to read. There’s a very simple, handy knack to doing this which the people I work for – as a subby – have taught me.

I come from a family of teachers and I have always known that I don’t have the balls to teach – mainly because teenagers are the most frightening thing in the world; far scarier than nuclear armageddon, global warming or being attacked by killer bees. So yes, thus far I’ve eschewed the family career.

Yesterday’s workshop comprised 3 courses run by 3 facilitators, one of whom was me. I sat in on the main man for the first half while he taught his course and another subby taught the others, then we swapped, fellow subby sitting in with the main man and me doing “how to write great copy”. Here’s how it went.

I sit down with the group and instantly my brain shuts down. Yes, it’s emptied itself of all useful information and all the fabulously articulate sound bites it containes. Actually it doesn’t contain any fabulously useful sound bites but hey, I can pretend I have prepared for this.

I stare at them like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming articulated lorry. My mouth is waiting to go, it just needs a bit of input from Brain but Brain is scared and has emptied itself of all useful information. Only one word is left.

“Fuck!” It says.

Damn! Clearly I’ll have to wait for it to re-boot. Mouth kicks in to stall them while Brain re-loads.

“Right, how to write great copy…” I say. Hello? Hello brain? Anything coming up on screen? No. Oh dear.

“Great copy… yes, how to write it.” Brain? Brain? Where ARE you? Nope, still not there….

Stammers…”Mmm… great copy… yes well if we start with our notes.” Oh. They all have a different set of notes to me. Worse although I had it 30 seconds ago, I’ve lost my place. Arse…

“Mmm…” I say grinning merrily. “I’m normally a little more articulate than this written down.” They smile indulgently while, inside, I throw a major loop.

“What is going on? I’m a retired stand up comedienne for heaven’s sake!

“If I can remain sort of calm in front of 300 drunken students, hungry for my blood, read them poems – albeit funny ones – and not get booed off the stage, why can’t I do this? I can do stand up standing on my sodding head! What is going on? Why can’t I do this?” Screams… well… all of me – only not out loud.

After all, these are six nice people who want to be here and are eager to learn. Ah, now I understand the problem. I’m afraid of letting them down.

They are very patient, my victims and eventually after what seems like an eternity of blind panic but is probably only a couple of hours, one of them asks me a question. I take deep breath and to my surprise Brain has re-booted and hands Mouth an immediate answer. I calm down, find my place in the notes – and theirs – and we begin.

In the end, I am very pleased to have attempted it. The process of imparting knowledge is fulfilling, there’s no doubt about that and it feels great the one time they really “get” what I’m trying to explain… I wish I could speak in a straight line and remember that my inability to do so is, of course, why I chose to write.

I manage to cover everything and although one of them isn’t too clear on what I’ve been going on about another says it’s the first time she’s really understood it. A partial success then, enough to give me a nice warm feeling – lucky because I’m going to have to do it again.

Mmm… perhaps that’s why teachers plan lessons. I make a mental note that I will try to have some idea of what I am actually going to talk about next time, rather than just busking it from the notes.

After our ordeal is over, I speak to the other subby and discover that the only difference between his experience and mine is that when he looked at their expectant faces the only word left in his brain was. “Shit!”

Clearly he’s better brought up than me!



1. liberrydwarf - 10, April 2007

hehehe….I also come from a long line (like 5 generations) of teachers, the only non-teachers in my extended family network are an architect (who lectured at university), a transport manager (divorced out), an IT tech (divorced out) and a psychiatris (doing masters of online education for family acceptance).

Rebellious little me finished an arts degree and decided to be a LIBRARIAN because teachers weren’t cool and teenagers were Satan incarnate. First position out of university? Teaching bibliographic searching to freshman 17 year old students. My karma bites…

I try to plan my classes. Think up the examples first and whatnot… any time I try something impromptu it invariably doesn’t work and I look dumb.

My #1 tip for teaching when you aren’t a teacher – Do Not Under Any Circumstances Allow Them To Ask Questions UNTIL THE VERY END!!!

2. Nate - 10, April 2007

I love it.

Calm in the face of adversity, right?

Nice post.

3. babychaos - 11, April 2007

Liberrydwarf thanks for that you make me feel human, I went to university because I knew the one thing I categorically didn’t want to be was a secretary. I spent 2 years unemployed after leaving university and then 8 years as a secretary, karma has teeth!

Nate, glad you liked it.



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