The End of an Era

I taught people to use person computer software from 1984 to 2014 or so. Imagine: 30 years. Those were heady days spanning DOS 1 to Windows Umpteenth. There was no public access to the Internet (always capitalized, damn it!) or any of the things we take for granted now.

I worked hard preparing for classes. That uncompensated prep-time allowed me to feel comfortable and flexible in class. It is second nature to me to outline and organize.

I’m an introvert and find more than two people at once exhausting, especially strangers. However, I loved teaching. I loved seeing the light go on and helping people move toward the level of comfort and appreciation of technology that I feel still.

My teaching days petered out as I moved into writing computer and photography books. Writing is a different pleasure. Like teaching, writing requires organizing information and presenting it effectively. I suspect anyone can teach or write but doing both well and having fun is another matter.

All this comes forth as I look back well into retirement. I’ve been going through a couple of boxes of paperwork from UNM, TVI (pre-CNM), and my consulting. The last to go were copies of evaluations. I made those in part for ego and in part for self-defense if anyone questioned my qualifications.

Looking at these evaluations, I’m grateful for the feedback. I’m happy people appreciated my prep, my knowledge, even my sense of humor. While most were positive, there were some harsh ones, including one I still wince remembering 25 years later.

Here’s one that stands out:

“Mark has presented this tricky topic with agility. HIs gentle approach and his ability to retain control over the material while free-falling toward complex topics are both admirable. His guileless humility is also quite encouraging, allowing the thought that everyone in the class — including him — is working hard toward the achievable goal of mastery. An excellent instructor.”

This reminds me that when UNM Continuing Education was drafting a blurb on me, there was a disagreement among the staff about referring to me as “nurturing,” a word I find appropriate. Some thought it diminished my authority.

Here’s another:

“Mark is a cutie… overall, presentation was very good and easy to understand. Enjoyed the class very much…. I plan to return.” [use of ellipsis was the student’s]


“Thank you, Mark! You’re a great teacher.” [there goes my guileless humility]

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