Posted by ronell-smith
[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]
One of my most memorable interactions in college took place in English 202, when my professor would have us come to the front of the class and share with him (while seated in a chair right beside his desk) what our thesis was for the assignment we’d be working on for the first half of the semester.
In nearly every case, my thesis was too long, something my professor had no truck with.
“Smith,” he’d say, “if you cannot explain it in a sentence, you don’t understand it clearly.”
I’d always walk away wondering how on Earth I was supposed to distill my idea into one sentence.
It would be years later, while studying physics, that I encountered a similar quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein [“Unless you can explain it simply, you do not understand it fully”], before I finally understood the message my professor was trying to get across: “The better you understand an idea, and can distill its essence internally, the easier it is for you to share the idea succinctly and clearly to the reader.”
We now live in a world overflowing with words, even as the time we have to read them …read more