The Value of Guidelines over Rules

It may be my natural rebellion against rules.

It may be my frustration when I say something in the declarative as a consultant and it’s received as a rule.

It may be my annoyance watching people make up rules because they simply aren’t able to explain the why.

Whatever the motivation, I’m becoming more aware of the need to embrace guidelines instead of set rules when coaching or training individuals or teams working with models.

For example, instructional design focuses on using Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy in the order from lowest cognitive outcome of remembering with a boring terminology mastery assessment to the highest cognitive outcome of creating where learners finally get to actually do something.

However, what if we flipped it? Julie Dirksen talks about inverting the order … starting by having students create, then evaluate their creation, then analyze (break down) the parts of their creation, then apply changes to their creation as a result of their analysis in order to better understand what they created, making remembering beautifully ingrained in the learner.

Does that inversion work all of the time? No.

Is that inversion incredibly fantastic for many things? Yes.

However, it was beat into my head during grad school and among peers to use the first order in any instructional design. No exceptions. I passed that on to my clients too, unknowingly trapping them as much as I was unknowingly trapped.

What if it was presented as a strong guideline we use the first scale that I presented because it’s important to provide a grounding for learners and build on their knowledge.

There’s really nothing wrong with that guideline justification, and by it’s very nature being presented as a guideline, there’s a natural openness to other learning progressions.

As coaches and trainers, we must hold ourselves accountable explaining the why behind each element of a model. We must be willing to examine everything around the why, and if you are afraid of that, I recommend carefully reflecting on your personal proficiency of that model.

If we don’t, we are no better than the industrial age; just fancier toys.

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.

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