Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lesson Learned (Again)

In books, especially in books for children, the main character faces some problem that is usually solved by her coming to learn some truth about herself, or about the world, or about her place in the world. I love these epiphany moments in books, if they aren't too heavy-handed and didactic.  These are the moments when, as a reader, I get joyful tears in my eyes at the rightness of what is being learned, particularly if it's something that speaks to me on a deep personal level, addressing some demon I've been wrestling with in my own life.

But here is one key difference between literature and life. In literature, the main character learns a lesson, and it stays learned; if there's a sequel, she goes on to learn some different lesson in the next book. In real life, we have to learn the same lesson over and over - and over - again.

I remember that a year ago I blogged about learning how to delegate, as I was cleaning up a devastated property for sale and desperately needed and welcomed the assistance of an army of brilliant, hardworking graduate students who came to my rescue.  Delegating is the key to success!  I think I wrote something to that effect in this very blog.

Today I learned that same lesson again. I'm working on the logistics for the conference on Ethics and Children's Literature that I'm organizing at the Prindle Institute for Ethics this coming September. It's to be a major and wondrous event. I have three keynote speakers: Susan Campbell Bartoletti (award-winning children's author who writes about ethically charged subjects like youth who worked for and against Hitler, and the Ku Klux Klan); Claudia Nelson (prominent historian of children's literature,who can talk about changing approaches to shape children's ethical behavior through children's literature over the years); and Thomas Wartenberg (philosopher who uses children's literature in school settings to get kids to talk about ethical issues).  I put out a call for papers to children's literature scholars, philosophers, and authors, and I got a terrific batch of submissions and reviewed them with an insightful colleague and then sent off acceptances.

But now I have to do the actual work of making it all happen. Being still of a fatal do-it-yourselfer cast, I muddled along for a while, but then it became clear to me, abundantly clear, that it was time - well past time - to have a meeting with my fabulous coworkers at the Prindle. Well, within a very few hours, I had a real working budget for this event (a budget I wish I had made sooner, but oh, well), and an amazing color-coded spreadsheet for all the participants (a spreadsheet I wish I had made sooner, but, oh well). 

Oh, my darlings, delegate! When you are surrounded by people with better budgeting and spreadsheet-making skills than yours, delegate! Do it before you mess everything up, rather than after! And if after,do it as soon as possible after! You will be so glad you did!

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