Random notes on being a student:
As I mentioned, I’m back in school on Mondays and Wednesdays (I’m in the office late those days so Miracle and Zoe are picking up the slack). I signed up to take a class on InDesign, the notoriously non-intuitive Adobe program. I’ve never taken a computer class in my life and resent that the user interface of these programs is so poorly designed that only extreme personal dedication would allow one to learn on their own. I am a stupid ingrate. I should shut up (!) and stop complaining. As a student, I bought the entire creative suite for peanuts. A measly $230 as compared to $1,200 for the whole package. It’s worth taking the class for the discount alone. I could have just bought an upgrade (I have Pagemaker 6.5) but even considering the cost of the class and books, the class was still less expensive than the price of the upgrade. I tell you, education is such a bargain. Accordingly, when I was eyeing the other kinds of software available for purchase in the bookstore (AutoCad!), it occurred to me that I just may continue to take some computing classes for awhile… Yes, I know that the edu versions of the software have some features disabled but I don’t care about those features anyway so it works out for me.
Being in a classroom again is interesting in many ways. Of course everyone is at least 20 years younger than me except for another old lady (like me) that I sit next to. We’re slower than everyone else and spot each other. Another student is bright and charming but deaf and -I’m sure- an aspie so he talks really LOUD. He’s trying to impress a young girl -with an annoying purple eyebrow piercing, I keep wanting to brush whatever that is away from her eyes- who sits behind me and it’s all I can do to keep from passing him a brochure in the hopes it’ll up his chances. When not surveying the social landscape aka being a busybody, I find I’m spending as much time analyzing the instructor’s method of instruction with an eye towards improving my blog visitors learning and retention as well as my own tutorials. I’ve picked up a couple of tips from the instructor that I’m looking forward to using.
Speaking of, we’re supposed to start this thing called a “swipe file” which I’d never heard of and it wasn’t explained so I googled it -I tell you, kids today have it so much better than we did!- and found out that it’s the practice of collecting ads and copy as a resource of ideas. It’s my understanding that PR people and graphic artists have been doing this for ages. We do it too. At least I do. I have tons of pictures I’ve collected from fashion magazines; we just don’t call it “swipe filing”. I suppose we should. It’s more honest. My first swipe file assignment was to collect 3 ads with good alignment so I picked up my most recent copy of Co-op America and I was genuinely surprised at how bad the ads were. I’d never noticed before. Or at least, I never had a vocabulary or parameters with which to judge them before. Since the Co-op America magazine was not going to help with my assignment, I picked up the Economist (good read by the way but I’m soooo behind). And I kid you not, I ripped out the first three ads I came to because they were good. The dichotomy between the two publications was striking. The “money” magazine had the best work. The fair trade publication had the worst. What was up with that? It shouldn’t be this way. Sad. It makes doing good works look second rate.
I’m doing okay with the mechanics and navigating the features of the program but I’m not very good at the design part of the class. I was not aware this was an “art” class. I thought it was a software class so I feel like I’ve been suckered into something I had no interest in pursuing. It really frustrates me if I have to design a layout of something. Here is a project I’m supposed to turn in on Monday. When I was sitting there fiddling with it, I just thought, why should I do this? I’m really lousy at it and I know tons of designers who could do this so much better than I can so why should I fool with it? I mean, in real life, you don’t fiddle with what you don’t do well, that’s why you hire experts. I know tons of experts, why couldn’t I just use them? But then I realized, that’s the great disconnect between school and real life. In school, you’re supposed to “do your own work” but in real life, you’d work in a team and just do your part of it, excellently of course. And I decided that maybe some people have a hard time letting go and hiring experts to help them in this business because school socialized them into thinking that hiring help is like cheating. Well, it may be cheating in school (maybe the system of student work interaction needs to change?) but in real life, it’s smart.
Maybe I already told you this story before but I used to do this introductory 2 hour seminar called Manufacturing 101 and I’d start the class by passing out a quiz. Which we’d then grade of course, the questions being the source of the class discussion. One time, I had three ladies who all worked together who took the class. They owned a garment laundering and processing facility, washing mostly denim so they did a lot of work for the local 5 pocket outfits. That’s what jeans are called in the trade by the way, 5 pocket. Anyway, these chicas were all copying off of each other’s quizzes, passing their papers back and forth, hoping I wouldn’t notice. Well I noticed all right and when the test was over, I went over and confronted them about it and one tried to deny it so I gathered up their papers, and wrote a big fat 100, A+ and a big star across the top of them. I was thrilled! Yes! That is the way to do it in real life! I used them as an example to the rest of the class. See, these ladies already worked in the business. They already knew that singularly they couldn’t answer all the questions correctly but collectively, they stood a chance at getting them all right. Now, in real life, who’s going to be more profitable? People who already know they don’t know and who will actively work with other people to get the work done correctly. Isn’t that what matters? In real life, it’s not how smart you are that matters. What matters is being smart enough to know who does know the answer and where and how to find them.
Now, who’s going to do my homework? It’s due on Monday :).