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Showing posts from March, 2018

The 100th Freakin' Time

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At the opening of Donald Finkel’s marvelous Teaching With Your Mouth Shut, he asks his readers to stop reading and take a simple test.Simply put the book down, he suggests, and spend a few minutes describing in writing the most significant learning experiences you ever had.When you are done, return to the book and answer a few questions about these experiences.

When I took this test, my mind immediately went to a couple of books that have had a significant impact on my thinking.Reading them had been an intellectual adventure.So I described myself stretched out on my couch one summer in my tiny apartment and so absorbed by all the new ideas that I did not realize the afternoon had slid into early evening.

Then I went back to Finkel’s book to answer his questions, among which were the following:  Did the learning experience take place in a classroom?   Did it take place in a school?   Was a professional teacher involved in making it happen?
For most people, Finkel notes, the answer to all …

"...eternity in an hour..."

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Two weeks ago I happened across a retired colleague who was back on campus for a special event.  I was returning to my office after a trip to the campus bookstore and she was exiting the auditorium where the event had been held.

Surprised to see her for the first time in a few years, I smiled and said hello.  And, although we had never been especially close, she beamed back at me and even gave me a warm hug.  There followed a short exchange in which we updated information about recent activities and I quickly realized that this may have been the first time she had been back on campus since retirement.  I could tell she was experiencing a variety of emotions just seeing old faces and walking the halls again.

This colleague had spent decades in the white hot center of faculty politics. There were few issues, controversies or changes that she sat out.  And she was good at it, a shrewd judge of her opponent's agendas, skilled at in-fighting and--like all good faculty pols--you seldom…

Orientation Zones

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A while back I was watching a documentary on  the design of gas station/convenience marts-- you know those ubiquitous commercial spaces you seldom consider.  Apparently one of the key features of their design is a carefully constructed "orientation zone." This is an open, empty space of maybe 35-40 square feet directly inside the main entrance--just enough room for customers to stand for a second or two and familiarize themselves to the store's layout.

Let's face it: customers who enter a Seven-Eleven or a Kwik-Trip aren't there to browse the merchandise.  They're bent on getting one or two items (maybe finding the restroom) and then bugging out.  So designers must think carefully about who customers are, what they want and how the space can be configured to meet their needs.  Good orientation zones will make the logic of the store's layout instantly clear.  They provide open sight lines to all the signage and possible routes into and back out of the spa…