Donn King works with individuals and organizations who want to forge top-notch communication skills to increase their influence and impact. He is associate professor of speech and journalism at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as a speaker and writer. His background includes ministry, newspaper, radio, small magazines and other publications, as well as co-authoring a textbook and blogging.
Your (I suspect) tongue-in-cheek response to a Facebook posting has led me to a lot of introspection and thought. When a colleague posted a very frustrating example of inept prose from a student (if I recall correctly, someone in the last weeks of the second semester of English comp, who should have known better before even beginning that semester), you responded with, “Yeah, I’m not teaching college students… thank you for helping me make that decision. ;)”
It’s always hard to tell if someone is joking in social media, and I realize you probably were—but at that moment, you seemed serious to me, and I was saddened. I can’t depend on my memory anymore, but I’m pretty sure you planned to become a professor, and I fear our water cooler banter may have seriously influenced you.
In any case, you prompted some introspection on my part that I would like to share with you, and with others who might be considering similar professional goals—even if you were just joking. (And I apologize for sucking the comedy from it if that was the intent.)
Note: thank you for letting me use this moment as a foil to dig into my own thinking a bit and writing about it!
I managed to get through a challenging semester. I knew I wouldn’t be able to post for a couple of weeks as we wrapped up, but it has been nearly a month! However, I have the next couple of posts already lined up and I wanted to alert faithful readers to a slight change in scheduling.
Sometimes I keep up with the “twice a week” schedule pretty well, and, as you can tell, sometimes I don’t. I’m going to try a different pattern (and you can let me know how you like it or don’t like it). I am aiming for a regular post every week on Tuesday, something more in depth. I may post shorter pieces at other times, but I’ll try to make sure Tuesday brings something of interest to all.
I am also working on a new podcast that will go live by the first week of June. In this podcast I will talk with people I’m calling Switchers right now. (This term could change as it develops.) These are people who have taken a path beyond the usual, or who have later in life switched from a standard career into something that satisfies their souls.
For instance, the first one will feature a young woman who discovered both a passion for photography and for independent business unusual among recent college graduates–a path she had never considered before finding it. When a new podcast episode goes up, I will post that here as well.
Conventional wisdom is that you need to be regular in scheduling, and I certainly aim for that. If you have been with me for awhile, though, you know that I have responsibility for a severely disabled daughter, and my wife is also disabled. They have veto power over my plans. (If you can tell, I’m smiling as I say that.) My choice is to not write this blog at all, or do the best I can with it. I will be posting about this later, in fact, but the short version is: I think you should do the best you can with what you want to do, even if you can’t do it perfectly.
So thank you for sticking with me, and helping me produce something you would be glad to share with friends and colleagues.
When I was a kid, one of my good friends was Steve Reid. Steve later went on to be a successful musician in Memphis, Tennessee, though he passed away unexpectedly two years ago. We lost touch over the years but thankfully reconnected before he left this earth.
As a working musician, Steve certainly knew how to keep going despite failure. We never talked about it, but I know the life of a musician is hard–constantly hustling to get the gigs, to make a living, to keep the vibe going.
I used to be a picky eater. I still have control issues along those lines. Recently, when the fam thought Arby’s sounded good for supper, I decided to just go with the flow and try a sandwich I’ve had my eye on. I usually will be really specific about what I want on a sandwich (“hold the pickles, add mayo,” etc.), but I decided this time, what the heck, just get the Loaded Italian sandwich, and get it the way it comes.
I really liked it, even with banana peppers on it (which I’ve always assumed I didn’t like).
You can’t force creativity, but you can remove the roadblocks.
At the risk of sounding like an old fart (because, after all, I am one): I believe I have noticed a decrease in the ability of incoming students to think outside the pigeon hole. I don’t think students are any less intelligent, but I do think it is one of the unintended side effects of “No Child Left Untested” foisted on the American public in a well-intentioned but misguided attempt to improve public education.
I don’t want to trot down that side path right now. Regardless of the cause, I am sure I see students struggling to think creatively. You might struggle as well.
I just got off the phone with an old friend I haven’t talked with for probably 40 years. I still hear my friend from then in his voice. The call came to my phone, but I really had no idea what the actual connection was (turns out it came through Facebook Messenger).
Are you sick of hearing about “fake news”? I am. The term has been rendered useless, devolving into an empty rhetorical device. People on both sides of the political divide have taken to simply calling something they disagree with “fake news,” as seen in a recent exchange on CNN. Here’s a hint: using that term now labels you as a shallow parrot.
Happy Valentine’s Day! At least, I hope it is a happy one. I hope that you have someone to love, and someone who loves you. That doesn’t necessarily mean romance, by the way. Just that you care about each other–relatives, friends, lovers, it doesn’t matter, and it’s none of my business. But I wish something good for you.