Tonawanda News

Columns

October 3, 2013

KEPPELER: Learning on the 'job'

Tonawanda News — I’m a fan of education.

I suppose that’s a given. After all, is anyone really a fan of ignorance? (Wait. Don’t answer that.) But I’ve always enjoyed the process of education itself. I loved elementary and (to a lesser extent) high school. I’d be the perpetual college student if that was possible, happily taking class after class in language, literature, history — just about anything, really. Heck, just let me take various non-college classes in the arts, etc., and I’ll be a happy woman. I hope to someday have the time for that.

I learned a lot in the classroom, both in my earlier years (I recently stunned my 5-year-old by singing him a song I’d learned in kindergarten) and college (St. Bonaventure, ‘97). It would be a betrayal of the dozens of excellent teachers from whom I’ve learned over the years to deny that. And I don’t want to downplay their role.

But when I look back, the places where I learned the most, the places that prepared me the best for what it would really be like to walk out the classroom door and into a working newsroom, weren’t classrooms. They were my college newspaper and the internship I served during that time.

In college, we actually did Associated Press style drills, quizzes designed to impress those basic rules of journalism into our writing and make them second nature. But in the old BV newsroom on the bottom floor of the Reilly Center, I learned to read copy (and write copy) with an eye for those rules while distracted, exhausted and all-too-cognizant of looming deadlines.

Now that? That makes an impression.

I wrote stories for class. But those stories were due by such-and-such a date, or maybe the next class if things were tight. At the paper, I had evenings where I’d go flying out the door hours before deadline with a notepad and pen in hand because the freshman slated to write the week’s centerpiece had been too under the weather to finish the story. 

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