THE ART OF INSTRUCTION

Instructions copy                                                                                                                                                                                                       Original picture by Nicole Waring/Getty

I have come to the conclusion that there is a serious shortage of people who have very specific skills for giving instructions or directions.  In fact, I’d go so far as to declare a crisis in the writing genre of instruction-giving.  I don’t know if there is even a genre by that name, but its lack of good writers is evident  There are few people who know how to do it well and they are definitely underpaid, underappreciated and underneath the radar.  I suspect many of them write the directions for putting together furniture sold by Ikea.  That’s the only example that comes to mind where you can see what a set of good instructions looks like.

I am amazed at the number of times I buy some product you have to assemble and the directions are compiled by a nuclear physicist who has absolutely no idea how no-brainer, mechanically inept types like me think.  Or, the directions are written by someone even dumber than I am.  They have failed to realize that Knob “A’’ does not insert into Socket “B” of Hub “C” no matter how many times you try.  Nor will Support Bar “L” snap into place on top of rail “K.”  And, oh yeah, rail “K” is nowhere to be found.  It’s not in the box, not in the plastic bag of miscellaneous parts, nor on the floor of the car.  Rail “K” is a mystery part; it does not exist.

I am further amazed how many people do not grasp the concept of left and right.  No matter how many times you review the geographical aspects of the directions Left vs. Right, these people always make a right turn when you clearly told them to turn left.  Surprisingly, most of these same people have mastered up and down so I guess we should be grateful for small accomplishments.

Clueless direction-givers, I suspect, do not understand thermostats either.  I once wrote a blog on how important it is to understand how a thermostat works (it’s in the “vault” farther down the right –> side of this page, posted on March 7, 2013 and titled “Thermostat 101”).  Not only do thermostats regulate how hot or cold we can make our environments, they also metaphorically represent various elements of human beings themselves.  We all have internal thermostats that regulate all kinds of emotions and reactions we display throughout our lives.  That is why I have suggested over and over again that there should be a basic course in thermostats that all high school students must take…and pass before they graduate.  Now, I have come to the same conclusion that a course in basic instruction-giving would also be of great benefit.  I have a feeling I could develop a whole new curriculum for our public schools.  Imagine the incredible benefits to society if all of us thoroughly understood thermostats and the art of giving direction.  Okay, I think I may be losing some of you by now.

That is all I wanted to say. I am done.  This posting is finished.  This is the ending part.  You may return to the first word of the first sentence above if you wish to begin reading this posting once more.  Otherwise, you are instructed to position eyes (“a” and “b”) onto some other element “f,” “s,” “z” or whatever, then proceed to interact with it, thereby disengaging and vacating yourself from this immediate area (“k”).  Have a nice day!

*****

 

 

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About Marc Kuhn

I am a retired radio exec. I've worked at major stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Miami. That was then. This is now: I've published seven books and this blog thingy. Need to know more? Really? Okay, I bare/bear all at http://marckuhn.com The other links are for the websites of each of the books I've written. I've been busy! Hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks for your interest!
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