I am getting ready to teach a college course in the fall and that is causing me to think back on my own experiences in college. I remember so little of the coursework. My most significant learning came from one experience.
For the culminating class of my master’s program, each of us had to do a project and give a twenty-minute presentation about the project. The presentations were critiqued by a panel of expert practitioners. One of the practitioners had written a book that was part of our curriculum.
I began my presentation, speaking to the class but paying close attention to the men (they were all men) at the critique table in the back of the room. I was probably no more than five minutes into my presentation when the man whose photo was on the back of the book stopped me to ask a question. I answered it. He asked a follow up. I answered. There was some conversation at the back table and then I was asked to sit down.
I sat, humiliated. The reason I was asked to sit was that I was describing the hammer I had built to solve a problem that was not a nail. I was a good student and I was good at building hammers but that wasn’t what the situation required. It was a harsh but valuable lesson.
After I was in my career, the memory of this experience kept me from building hammers when hammers weren’t going to solve the problem. It helped me advocate for solutions that would work because I knew the cost of building a worthless hammer.
Chewing the Cud of Good
I talked to two of my friends yesterday and I am wiggling my toes with happiness.