Sunday, May 8, 2011

The professor is in

It seems that the writing-instructor cap has taken up semipermanent residence on my head.

This coming Saturday opens the four-weekend Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park Writers' Workshop in the Friends of the Porkies' Folk School at the park in western Upper Michigan. There I'll be teaching nine students the fine points of writing about wilderness.

And next October 16 through 21, I'll be co-teaching a workshop on railroad photography and travel writing at the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, Missouri. My partner is Carl Morrison, a noted California rail photographer and fellow "field reporter" for

You can read all about it here.

Decades ago, when I taught at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, I prepared copies of my lectures and ran them off on an electronic copier to hand out to all students in my classes. I'd read the lectures aloud while the students followed along. Naturally many if not most would read ahead to the end and stop, bored expressions on their faces, while I caught up. Sometimes it took a long time to catch up.

This was an inefficient way to overcome my sometimes-hard-to-understand "deaf speech," but there was nothing else to do. In the end, it worked.

This time I'll be using another method to convey the text of my lectures: Keynote (the Mac version of PowerPoint) presentations, salted with photographs. This has worked well for bookstore pitches and library talks. I can see no reason it shouldn't in the classroom as well.

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