Short and sweet

One of my favourite lines from “Good Will Hunting” is the one that Robin Williams uses, and Matt Damon borrows, to explain why they’ve had to make certain decisions. As Matt Damon’s character, Will, puts it:

“Sean, if the Professor calls about that job, just tell him, sorry, I have to go see about a girl.”

It’s easy to talk about some of the objective aspects of teaching: curricula, concepts, relationships, abstractions, taxonomies, lesson plans, objectives… (it’s harder to do things with them but we all understand that) It’s harder when we think about the overall support, mentorship and influence that we’re going to have on our students, our colleagues and the world. Will’s quote is borrowed from a story that Sean (Robin Williams) told him earlier, how he made a choice that he never regretted to pursue his (future) wife.

A bad teacher will probably more influence, in many ways, than a good one. The things we say will be remembered in one way or another but, given that very few of us have scriptwriters, we may never get memorable or Oscar-winning quotes out. The negative things we say? If we ever belittle someone? You know that’s going to be remembered. Anything we do that’s unfair? That makes people seethe? Probably going to be remembered. That is, of course, why we should never say things like that or do things like that. I’d rather be forgotten than infamous.

We are, above everything else, people. We have strengths, weaknesses, good days and bad. We strive to excel, we succeed when we can, we learn from our mistakes if possible and then we do it all again.

Now of course, lecturing ICT is not just C++, Java, data structures and databases. It’s professionalism and ethics and dealing with subtleties… For me, the most important aspect is consistency. Every student should get the same Nick, the same amount of time, the same attention and, more importantly, I try to apply my teaching philosophies uniformly. One of the things I encourage is that my students tell me what’s going on so that I can help them or be ready for it. So that other people can plan around it. It should never be an excuse for laziness but it should be a sign of forethought, planning and honesty. So, in the spirit of reflexively applied consistency, here’s what’s happening for the next week or so. I’ll still be blogging daily but the posts may be a bit shorter, hopefully combining that with being a bit tighter at the same time.

Tomorrow there will be a long post with lots of graphics that I spent some time on and I hope you enjoy – it’s a bit of fun with (I hope) something useful. The rest of the week is going to be a series of short and sweet posts, the first of which is already in the queue. My usual long ramblings will return soon enough.

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