My general "audience" is 13-15 year old freshman in an inner city high school.
I do explain font differences, starting with large differences and going
down to subtle differences.
I use a music analogy--asking them how many parents tell them all their
music sounds the same and how many of them think all their parents' music
sounds the same.
I try to explain that you understand things, you see the subtle differences.
Serif and Sans Serif are easy (I have even used that lesson when I am
observed by my supervisors--even they understand it).
But when the students first see the difference between Helvetica and
Futura, I get "wows". It takes several lessons but they are excited and
then I go on to Univers vs. Helvetica--even more wows. And then Avant Garde
vs. Futura (with the knowledge that AVG Gothic was based on Futura and how
it was designed).
Bodoni vs. Time Roman--that's easy, but then I start to show them cap O's
in ten different serif fonts and look at the stress--by this point this is
extra credit--not all the students can see this.
I have never tried to do this with a large group of adults--but I suspect
it would be much harder. I also always get 9th or 10th graders. They are
harder to teach, but I enjoy the energy levels.
Graphics Institute at Bushwick High School, Brooklyn, NY
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