My 88-year-old grandmother recently got a new desk chair. It is a pretty typical chair.
After putting it together for her, I walked her through getting the back adjusted to the right level. We discussed how to use the lever on the side to move the seat up or down and how to push the lever inward to lock the back and prevent it from rocking.
There are wheels on the chair, but it was physically difficult for her to roll the chair while sitting in it, so we got it set up so that, when she wanted to sit down, she could turn the seat a quarter turn to the side, sit down, and rotate back towards the desk so her legs went under the desk. She practiced all of these skills (actually, we went through a pretty solid “I do–We do–You do”) and she got the hang of this new-chair technology pretty quickly.
My grandmother reads and underlines the direction manual for every item that she owns, regardless of how simple or straightforward I think the item actually is and regardless of the extent to which she already knows how to get the desired functionality from the item. True to form, she read the direction manual for the chair.
I got a call the next day:
“I was reading the directions…”
“It says the chair rotates 360 degrees–all the way around! I tried it and it works! Did you know it did that?!”
Since then, she has mentioned to me at least one additional time how excited she is that the chair goes all the way around (“360 degrees!”).
Until she shared her excitement (repeatedly), it never crossed my mind that:
- It wasn’t perfectly obvious that the chair went all the way around. (Particularly since we had even practiced doing a quarter-turn).
- The fact that it went all the way around was exciting!
This provides a useful reminder for anyone seeking to “educate” someone else on a particular topic: a detail you may not even consider discussing since (you think) it is so obvious could lead to an insight that will bring great joy to one of your students!