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My Grandfather's Wisdom

A carpenter saws a piece of wood
My Grandfather's Wisdom

A long, long time ago, stood a wise old builder - my grandfather. His hands, weathered from years of shaping wood and tending dreams, once held mine as he shared a timeless piece of wisdom: 'Measure twice, cut once.' This simple phrase, rich in practicality and foresight, has become a guiding axiom in my own journey, echoing the virtues of vulnerability, courage, and precision necessary to craft something truly valuable and purposeful.

In my world, as an Instructional Designer, this adage takes on a magical resonance. I see myself not just as a designer, but as a craftsman, akin to my grandfather. My materials are the learners, each a distinct piece of timber with its own grain and story. In my toolbox lie storyboards, outlines, course maps - the tape measures and squares of my trade.

I often find myself wandering back in time, remembering my grandfather choosing his lumber. To my young eyes, it was just a pile of identical wood. But through his eyes, each plank was unique, each with its own character and potential. This lesson resonates now more than ever - in the world of instructional design, our learners are our lumber, each with their own peculiarities and strengths.

A carpenter inspects a piece of lumber
Discerning the differences

As an ID, I've learned to see not just the learner, but the intricate layers beneath. Just as wood can bow, warp, or split, learners come with their own challenges and needs. It's a craft, much like carpentry, where the art lies in recognizing these differences and tailoring our approach to fit each unique learner.

The process of measuring in our realm is a dance of understanding and empathy. We measure the depth of our learners' experiences, their knowledge, and then align our content and objectives accordingly. The act of 'cutting', in our world, is the crafting of our materials - a process that is precise, calculated, and rooted in the deep understanding gleaned from our measurements. This is where the magic happens, where quality becomes the cornerstone. Just as a carpenter transforms timber into a masterpiece of furniture, we, as learning designers, transform raw information into a tapestry of knowledge and skills.

Our craft is a delicate balance, a tightrope walk between too much and too little. When learners are overwhelmed, they lose their way in the forest of information. When given too little, they wander in search of more at best and give up completely at worst. Our goal is to master the art of simplicity, clarity, and utility - the hallmarks of both a master carpenter and a master instructional designer.

A stack of wood planks
Similar, but different

As I journey through the enchanting labyrinth of adult education, I hold close the sage advice of my grandfather. Measure with care, cut with precision, and always, always respect the material - the learners, each with their own saga, fears, and dreams. Our quest in adult education is to forge materials that don't just educate but also empower and ignite a spark of inspiration. It's a venture that calls for not just efficiency but for passion, purpose, and a dash of bravery.

In the tapestry of adult education, the true valor lies not only in the content we provide but in understanding the power of choice. We are the guides in this journey, offering pathways that encourage growth and exploration, creating spaces where learners can be vulnerable, be heard, and truly connect with the material.

So, in every course I weave, I carry with me the wisdom of the old builder, now transformed into a mantra for vulnerability and courage. 'Measure twice, cut once' - a reminder to approach our work with mindfulness, empathy, and the audacity to create learning experiences that not only educate but touch the soul, forge bonds, and bring about a metamorphosis of the mind and spirit.


All images contained within this post are courtesy of Media from Wix, unless otherwise noted.

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