Friday, November 4, 2011

Posts and Pagination

I have read some fascinating blog articles lately. The first, at Laura Grace Weldon's site, is entitled Emphasis on Testing Cheats Everyone and it discusses the numerous studies that have been done regarding the purported purpose of testing and whether testing actually accomplishes what it is said to do. Regular readers of my blog know I'm no fan of testing. It's nice to see some concrete proof for what I've observed, that testing only helps us predict how well a subject will do on future tests. I recommend reading it.

The second article is from Camp Creek Blog. It Takes Time to Really Learn discusses how we hurt learning by moving too quickly from one idea to the next. I love this quote from Lori:
Adult life is like this, too. We’re bombarded with new ideas and inspirations and possibilities. Like excited children in a toy store, we see something that fascinates us, but before we really sit own to play with it, we see something new and the “old” thing (even if it’s just minutes old) is dropped by the wayside and forgotten.
This reminds me of a book I read years ago, The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz. Having an abundance of anything, including ideas, can cause us to freeze up and not make any choice, for fear of choosing the wrong thing.

Lori's article really started me thinking. Our society seems to reward short attention spans. Employees who are better at multitasking have an easier time keeping their jobs since they can take on more responsibilities. A well-written television show has little chance of survival if it can't drum up viewership in its very first season. Programmers prefer lower-cost, mind-numbing reality shows that appeal to the audience the same way a traffic accident attracts rubberneckers. And schools that can show high marks on tests full of isolated facts learned by rote are rewarded with better funding. How often do you hear people laugh about how they could never pass the same tests they once excelled at? Every time I talk about testing I hear one of these "jokes."

I learned fairly early that if I wanted to do well at something, I needed to focus on it exclusively. I think my parents encouraged this attitude in me. They supplied me with reams of paper for drawing throughout my childhood. When I learned to juggle, I could spend the whole day doing nothing else. Circus arts was put to one side for yoga. And homeschooling. This is not to say that I abandoned past interests. One of the benefits of taking your time to learn a new skill is that it stays with you. You can always get back on that bike. You may be a little shaky at first, but the skill stays forever.

Which leads me to my latest project, learning how to publish my work. This has been on the back burner for a long time as homeschooling has been my priority, and then my writing and comics. Now that I have well over six hundred comic strips, the time has come to gather some into a collection. I've decided to do this as an experiment, using only the first two hundred comic strips as I learn the self-publishing process. I've been reading all about gutter margins and layouts and thinking about how to design the cover. Taking the time to learn and understand the final part of this process will probably cause me to slow down on making new strips, but I hope it will be worth it to the homeschooling community. I started putting everything together the beginning of this year, intending to have it ready in time for Christmas, but I'm having some problems with figuring out the formatting. My poor husband was helping me with my document for two hours last night, trying to get the footers to do what they are supposed to do. He plans to work on it again tonight. You wouldn't think that page numbers would be one of the most difficult parts of the process. That's something you learn along the way.


christinethecurious said...

I have been amazed at what parts of the process of getting a knitting pattern published are hard; for instance, until 2 years ago, I didn't know that there was such a thing as a technical editor (who knits your pattern in his/her mind, then checks the numbers, often as fast as 4 pages in a quarter hour. whoa.)

I'll ask for your book for my birthday when you get it done!

jugglingpaynes said...

Christine: Thank you! I will do my best to finish it in a timely manner!
A knitting technical editor...I think I've found a career for Marina!

Kez said...

Wow, how exciting Cristina! Good luck with your new venture :)

Anonymous said...

I've been waiting for that moment of publiation with great anticipation. I know that not only the homeshooling ommunity but the community at large will greatly benefit from your publication
because most people have difficulty undwerstanding and working with their children.
Let me know if that's your projected approach. If it is, I would be delighted to write an intro from an afterschool as well as an homeshooling perspetive. This is a non-binding suggestion.
I love you and the news, Dad

Stephanie said...

I have always hoped you would eventually publish your comics. Good luck on finding the best route! I look forward to buying a copy. :-)

Twisted said...

There is a Science Fiction and Fantasy writers site that can help stear you away from the ripoff self-publishing companies. It is worth checking into. I went through a couple of the worst ripoff artist before finding a company to just learn the ropes with, then later they 'cut' my isbn # when I wouldn't cough up more money. Be careful - though it is a fun endeavor.

Inner Elder said...

There's so much in this blog, I don't want to leave anything by the wayside. Testing - I believe this is a skill: knowing how to take a test. It was one of my skills. I was sometimes exempted from final exams because the teacher knew my work. You need some way to evaluate how your student is doing; obviously this is the advantage of homeschooling since you know your pupils.

Part 2: I remember that book about choice and recommend it as well. Too much choice!

Finally, I already have orders for your book which I know will be great! It's always in the details, even the margins. Don't give up. Love, Mom

seekingmyLord said...

Excellent! I think it is a wonderful idea on so many levels and I wish you the very best in this venture.

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