The best data-viz tip I learned in the sixth grade

The best data-viz tip I learned in the sixth grade

The best data-viz tip I learned in the sixth grade

As I think back on my career as a data visualization consultant, I realize many of the best lessons I apply in my work were learned as a student in grade school.

Long before Tableau was created or I had heard of data visualization, I was a kid with a bad part in in his hair (yes, I had hair) at John Diemer Elementary in Overland Park, Kansas (Go Eagles!).

One day in sixth grade, a teacher called me over for a reading test. ‘A reading test?’ I thought excitedly. I was going to crush this thing. I’ve been reading since kindergarten. I totally had this. Did this lady even know how many free pizzas I had earned in the BOOK IT! program? She was in for a real treat.

As I masterfully read each and every word on the page laid before me, my confidence only continued to build. These words were for amateurs; she should have at least known her audience and tried something a little more challenging. I couldn’t wait to share the news of my great triumph with my friends and family once this was over with.

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That’s when I learned one of my best data visualization tips.

When I got done reading, the teacher asked a question I will never forget:

What was the story about?

I was so busy concentrating on enunciating the words perfectly that I didn’t even think about the meaning of the words. I had completely missed the point of the test and failed miserably. I literally had no idea what the story was about. Filled with embarrassment, I asked for another chance to read the story. The teacher obliged and it worked out, but the lesson was learned and permanently etched into my memory.

The lesson I learned was: Know how you’re being measured.



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