Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Absence of Malice

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  • Sam F,

    What does anyone do with a history degree now anyway?

    I've found the research, analytical and communication skills pretty useful in a few jobs so far. High-end transferable skills for the win.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I notice your winky face, but hasn't the point been made on the other thread that precisely because we do have standardised national testing at present in both numeracy and literacy, coming in with an agenda to push the testing implies that in the future it's going to be more pervasive and focus the teaching a lot more, which many view as a backward step?

    I had to read that several times to understand the question. No fault in the writing Giovanni. It's more I haven't had my concoction of mind alignment additives yet. So please excuse me I slop of in the answer.

    I think its the focusing on literacy and numeracy as being the singular measurement of 'achievement' thats the problem. Literacy and numeracy is the ability operate a technology, a very powerful, but there's more than one way to skin a cat.

    My daughter is highly literate, she got the above averages at reading writing, social studies, science, arts... yardy yardy, on her report card. This is good, maybe all that improving my own reading age when I and my partner where introducing her to the technology paid of, maybe she just got lucky.

    What I'm reading here are the exemptions, people with high intelligence that happen to like using digital technology. Just in case know-body's noticed, we are all behaving like literary geeks, (myself included) as were heavily into it, big chunks of our social lives are conducted in rendered word. Myself, I'm not a high achiever, the gardens overgrown, there's leaks in the roof, the car needs an oil change and I've got unfinished art projects, literally stacked to the roof. I'm literally functional enough (if I don't have to do it at average speed) but thats sort of beside the point.

    Sorry there is no real conclusion to all that, other that so say isn't it a real piss to find underlined sentences, in ball-point pen, in library books. The path less traveled and all that.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I'm feeling cognitively better now.

    Are those tests being discussed a bit like the ones we need to complete, correctly, in-order to get our drivers licenses?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    I wonder if Public Address is a haven of PA test lovers?

    I don't recall my actual feelings about them. What I do recall is going home after doing one in Standard 1 (I think?) and reporting to my mother that there had been an incredibly difficult arithmetic problem - something like "37 * 10". She, bless her heart, said "oh, but all you need to do for that is shift the decimal point one place to the right."

    Once we had decoded this puzzling utterance to my satisfaction I remember being extremely miffed that people had previously withheld such an incredible trick.

    (Plus, I am on the Never Wagged team. And the Tech Writer team, for that matter.)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I am on the Never Wagged team. And the Tech Writer team, for that matter

    Almost enough now to challenge the PAS Women's team to a game - though there may be conflicted loyalties.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I don't recall PA tests - would they have been around in late 60's & early 70's?

    I, too, was a non-wagger what with it being a small town where being caught/spotted was almost certain and where there were precious few attractions that made the risk worthwhile.
    My old man was a doctor so there was no chance of throwing a sickie & getting away with it, either. I think I only missed 1 day's secondary schooling in my 5 years at Kapiti College.

    It wasn't all a bed of roses but I did OK.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I don't recall ever having actually wagged, mainly because I was convinced I'd be caught and Get Into Trouble, and school wasn't really that bad, by and large. I realised years later that being one of the Good Kids, the chances of getting into actual trouble were pretty low.

    I did spend a bit of time not at school, though. Scheduling problems and small classes meant that I had an 8am start, and two consecutive study periods on Mondays, bordered on one side by Life Skills, the biggest waste of curriculum space ever, as far as I was concerned. I recall one time going home for lunch (not technically Allowed without a note and an at-home parent) with five other girls (definitely not Allowed) to eat a shipment of American junk food an exchange student friend had just received. The Deputy Principal drove past us all and waved pleasantly - we obviously had Good Kid Privilege in truckloads. Good Kid Privilege gets you teacherly concern when you act out, rather than punishment. At one point, a teacher sensed I was getting bored and started supplying me copies of the Salient, to give me a sense of what I had to look forward to at university.

    I liked PAT tests. The neat coloured booklets (pink and red, or dark and light blue), the straightforward process. I remember one year the teacher read out everyone's scores to the class. I was really struck, back in 86 or so, how strong a gender divide there was in my class, especially at the top and bottom ends of the scale - the girls were miles ahead. I wonder what the nationwide results were showing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Almost enough now to challenge the PAS Women's team to a game - though there may be conflicted loyalties.

    Imagine our play-by-play diagrams, though.

    This tech-writer thing is starting to get a wee bit scary.

    Liking something doesn't mean it's good for our long-term well-being though (see also my relationship with sugar).

    Yeah, this. In fact, surely the fact that as kids we liked standardised testing should make the fact that as parents we're opposed to increasing it more significant. We're not the people who found testing a nightmare.

    I got my kids' reports yesterday. They're comprehensive, and appear to be giving me information about their progress in plain English.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Myself, I'm not a high achiever, the gardens overgrown, there's leaks in the roof, the car needs an oil change and I've got unfinished art projects, literally stacked to the roof.

    Ditto to that too. I don't know if I did the tests talked about on here - i presume so as my schooling was 60s/70s. I got pushed through primary & ended up in 3A as the youngest pupil in the class. I was terrified. Lost my social niche, felt pressured to perform academically as it seemed the only thing that justified me (family stuff) and consequently cracked under pressure. i got through high school by passing exams. Funny - I didn't take art past 4th form as the art teacher thought I wasn't realist enough.

    Creative process is so different. I've not found it useful in the employment world despite all the rhetoric around needing creative thinkers, they still want smiley people who do what they're told and don't complain and know their place.

    What does anyone do with a history degree now anyway?

    I've found the research, analytical and communication skills pretty useful in a few jobs so far. High-end transferable skills for the win.

    Yeah, that's the theory, hope it works for me.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Addison,

    This tech-writer thing is starting to get a wee bit scary.

    It gets scarier - I believe we have a certain triple-initial'd acquaintance in common, too. New Zealand - she is a small country.

    Onehunga, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 298 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Here's a piece of timing: Alfie Kohn in The Nation talking about education reform in the States.

    To be a school "reformer" is to support:

    § a heavy reliance on fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests to evaluate students and schools, generally in place of more authentic forms of assessment;

    § the imposition of prescriptive, top-down teaching stand-ards and curriculum mandates;

    § a disproportionate emphasis on rote learning--memorizing facts and practicing skills--particularly for poor kids;

    § a behaviorist model of motivation in which rewards (notably money) and punishments are used on teachers and students to compel compliance or raise test scores;

    § a corporate sensibility and an economic rationale for schooling, the point being to prepare children to "compete" as future employees; and

    § charter schools, many run by for-profit companies.

    politicians keep trotting out the same failed get-tough strategies "with no sense of irony or institutional memory."

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    It gets scarier - I believe we have a certain triple-initial'd acquaintance in common, too. New Zealand - she is a small country.

    Ah, that'd be you, me, and two other people on this thread.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    This tech-writer thing is starting to get a wee bit scary.

    What does a tech writer do - is it something like gathering all the relevant info for a set of processes, breaking it into logical steps, written so that a newbie can grasp it? Sort of?

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    This tech-writer thing is starting to get a wee bit scary.

    *cough* Another tech writer here. Though I did dabble in governance/compliance at my last job. Got into it as several other people did: the old "What do you do with an MA in Philosophy?", realised that the chance of finding anyone willing to pay big bucks for analyses of meta-ethical positions was low, and ran with the analytical skills/teaching/tech support stuff that'd carried me through varsity. Boom, one tech writer.

    My school regime lurched through several countries, leaving me with a fairly non-standard set of test results. I did pretty well on the SAT, for instance, which is absolutely no bloody use to anyone when you get back to NZ in time for 7th form. Didn't wag, particularly; I used to clear it with my teachers whenever we wanted to, for example, go see William Gibson speak at the lit festival. Ah, youth.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Pollock,

    What does anyone do with a history degree now anyway?

    More history degrees!

    Also, everything I know about the speed at which cats fall, I learned from PATs.

    Raumati South • Since Nov 2006 • 489 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    What does a tech writer do - is it something like gathering all the relevant info for a set of processes...

    That, and writing the user manuals, online help, etc for software, plus writing maintenance manuals for machining equipment... anything where you're trying to tell someone how to use a system. It's a surprisingly wide field.

    Not that anyone ever reads the stuff we write, mind. At one point, one manual I'd written turned out to have profanities in one of the screenshots (never borrow data sets from the dev team, kids). No-one noticed for 18 months.

    At least, not that they told us.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    *cough* Another tech writer here.

    ok, this is just getting silly.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    anything where you're trying to tell someone how to use a system. It's a surprisingly wide field....

    So, do you have be techno-geeky for this, understand it all yourself, or is it actually quite useful to be at the new-user end of the spectrum - as then you don't have taken-for-granted knowledge, make assumptions, that mean you miss out steps that newbies need spelled out? You have to think like a novice is what i mean?

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    *cough* Another tech writer here...

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    Not a tech writer! But I do give step-by-step recipe instructions from time to time. I'm particularly proud of my instructions for making mitred corners in the paper lining for sponge roll tins, and my Christmas cake recipe.

    Degrees in acountancy, history and philosophy here (greedy over achiever!). Another area for history and philosophy grads is policy and strategic analysis, which can be done on a project or contract basis, should you not wish to answer to the man all the time.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Wagging (BOP, '80s) never occurred to me, liked the PATs a LOT, & now earn a salary in an IT job that I get to treat as if I were self-employed.

    I was one of those kids that somehow ended up being a year ahead of the kids with whom I'd started school, and I performed perfectly well academically (excluding PE, and social studies which I found boring). However, I was a late bloomer physically & socially (even for my age), and in high school I had a lot of trouble fitting in. By 6th form most of my friends were from a class or two behind me.

    So, do you have be techno-geeky for this... [or] think like a novice is what i mean?

    Just as you've concluded, both. Uber-geeks often make pretty crap technical writers or help-desk staff because they tend to take a lot - particularly nomenclature - for granted. At the same time, it's a bit frustrating to have help files that mirror what you've already worked out yourself (my pet peeve is looking up the function of an obscure setting in the help files only to read "tick this box to enable <obscure setting>, duh"), so the better you understand a product, the more helpful the help will be.

    I'm not a tech writer, but after a few years in development roles that involve having to explain my work to clients either in meetings or documents, I've gotten the handle on my fair share of blank looks.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    ...obvs that post about technical writing was very IT-centric, such is my experience. Apologies to all technical writers that aren't working in IT.

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Technical translator here. Which means I spend a solid hour in ten of my time cursing technical writers.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Maybe RB or someone should set up an online poll of PAS members so we can ascertain just how deep this tech writer rot goes.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Not that anyone ever reads the stuff we write, mind.

    When doing the Bardic Web tech manual, I was severely tempted to change 'permissions' to 'persimmons' throughout, and see if anyone noticed.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

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