08 April 2011

Teacher, among other things

So I sort of fell into teaching. I never wanted to be a teacher really, until I started teaching and found out that teaching was a really good way to get people to listen to you. And although I have not always been a teacher, I have always been someone who likes to have people listen to them. What can I say.

I had a blast of some teaching in a meeting I was in yesterday. I don't think it's a private subject, so I will share here:

Every year, my department has a student/supervisor event in which PhD students are supposed to come and hang out with their and other students supervisors. This event has been sort of lame. We all sort of shuffle in on a Tuesday afternoon and eat bad catering food and spend the time looking for the exits. Well, not me so much: I am easily pleased when it comes to free food and had a good talk last time with one of the academics I quite like, but never get a chance to talk to.

Anyway, we're planning this year's picnic and I think I succeeded in convincing the committee to have a potluck picnic. I like potlucks, I realised, because they have built in buy-in; that is to say, if you bring food to an event, you have invested in the event and if it sucks, part of it sucking is your fault. If it's just an event that is catered, everyone can bitch and moan about catering, which is easy enough because catering does suck.

I also realised that the way we get people to this event is to make people know that I, Stephen, want them, whoever they are, to be there. Person-to-person. 'Hey, Leroy, it would mean a lot to me if you came next week.' I learned this when I was an Evangelical. You can get people to do things a lot better when they feel like you care about them. Of course, I do care about them, but without saying it, it won't ever happen.

So I'm going to swing my evangelical (small 'e' here) power to make this event as successful as I can, by getting people to put themselves into it. And the more of you that is in something, the less likely you are to complain about it and the more likely you are to defend it. There's nothing that I hate more than people complaining about things they are doing nothing to improve. No time for that.

Community is not an event. I invest in you, you invest in me: we have a sense of community, anywhere on god's green earth. I promise.

Just my thoughts, ladies and gentlemen: just what I was feeling at the time.