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Editing the world

I had a sudden realization last week: I don’t just read like an editor – I see the entire world as an editor.  The corollary: I’m not really a creator.  I can’t direct the play, design the layout or come up with the visionary business idea. But once someone else has done those things I can make them better.

I recognized this pattern when I was at my friend’s theatre performance, making my regular internal list of suggestions for improvement (that I of course never share).  It hit me that if I’d been asked to make the initial decisions on blocking, tone, movement, etc. I would have been lost, but once the director made the choices I knew exactly how to improve them.  This habit of trying to fine tune other people’s work is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s a curse when I’m at a job fair and more focused on how to improve it for next year than on prepping for this year’s interviews.  Or when I stop paying attention in a graduate school class because I’m thinking “you know, if you moved those tables closer to the front and asked more questions that forced everyone to participate you might have fewer people checked out.”  (Yes, I lose focus trying to figure out how to stop other people from losing focus.)  It’s a blessing because I appreciate the work others have done in creating and I like that I can almost always see a way to make things better.  To me, editing in an optimistic act.  Whether the original is rough or already polished, editing says “I think we can make this better.”  It’s powerful, addressing both big picture problems and minute fine tuning.

As I talk with my classmates I realize that this penchant for editing may have a strong influence on my career path.  I love to talk with other teachers about what they are doing in the classroom, reinforcing the things that are going well and making suggestions to address what’s not working.  Essentially, I love editing teaching, and I think there’s a real need for that in schools.  As a new teacher I won’t have the professional heft to do this, but it’s a role I can see for myself down the road.

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