But that's not what this post is about.
I observed an interesting phenomena in the session, one you might have encountered if you have tried to teach anything to do with design, soft skills, or decision making. Doug would be talking to us about interacting with our photographic subjects in a spiritual way, about having a "conversation" with our subjects. And right on the heels of this, certain members of the group would be asking about equipment, technology, f-stops. Topics that were about as far away on the spectrum of photography topics as one could imagine. Doug would allow the conversation to veer into this procedural areas, but it must have been frustrating. Why was this happening?
The answer is actually quite easy. We can divide all content into two categories: What we want the learner to be able to DO when they complete the instruction, and what the learner needs to KNOW before they can learn how to DO it. "Doing" content is primarily of two types: Procedural, and Judgement-making (also known as Principals.) Procedural content is the type where if you and I follow the same steps correctly, we will both come to the same correct outcome. Judgement-based content is where you and I will apply guidelines to come to completely unique but entirely correct, outcomes.
Judgement-making is hard to learn, and almost universally poorly taught. It requires particular elements in the instruction, in order to be taught successfully. Here's what you need to include:
- A clear statement of what the happy outcome will be if the guidelines are applied appropriately
- Guidelines that the learner should consider/weigh in making their decision or applying judgement
- An example, with the guidelines called out as they are applied
- An optional non-example, where the learner can see the result if the guidelines are not appropriately applied
- Multiple opportunities for the learner to practice with the nuanced, live, feedback of a master