How I graduated at 61…


I have been in the communication and training industry for more than 30 years. Academic training, professional, technical, soft skills. This kind of work required the inevitable necessity for me to keep up to date, collect knowledge, learn about trends, expectations, etc.

All these years were a sort of a continuing journey that opened for me new avenues, new challenges, many rewarding successes and so many lessons learned. I the last 5 years, I discovered the importance of Knowledge Management, the amazing and imaginative ways of Storytelling, the discovery of mind mapping brought me the answers to my way of thinking that seldom someone has ever explained to me (I felt reassured I was not coming from another planet!), of course all these discoveries helped me so much to reach a position where I could refine and offer better learning courses, in particular for adults (e-learning, mobile learning, etc.).

In my years of studies, one has to admit there weren’t classes about these skills, so I had to make time and provide enough energy to catch-up the moving train and learn at the same time I was working, this also gave me the feeling of how adults go for training while working.

00 Grad_1

I never graduated from any school as an Instructional Designer, or a Courseware Developer, a Training Need Analysis (TNA) specialist, a Storyteller, opposed of today’s offerings. And that is an amazing opportunity for people who are involved into the field of sharing knowledge (Instructors, teachers, trainers, etc.)

This being said, I wish to share with you, how after all these years, I had the amazing opportunity to (finally) graduate in this discipline at the age of 61!

I had to take care of my elder daughter’s kids. The three adorable little angels. In fact I was the only one available. It was a peculiar situation: babysitting or enjoying some good time with their grand dad!

To say the truth, I felt challenged, I felt as if I was planning the very first learning activity I did some 25ish years ago! Anxious to find the proper channel (pedagogy, style, language, etc.), anxious to adapt a learning-fun-discovery time for them, anxious to make this thing right.

I decided that we would use simple material, easy to use elements, wood, cardboard sheet, crayons, colouring pen, safety scissors, glue stick, foam sheets, drawing pads, etc. You should see me at the Dollarama store, looking for all these things, figuring how much adapted these could be, how safe, etc. People around me were staring at me, thinking I was probably a weirdo buying things most young kids usually play with! (Shhhh keep it secret, I felt the need to say to the person at the cash that I was buying these for my little young angels, he smiled and said “they must be lucky!) In fact I felt I was the lucky one too.

So after carrying two huge bags of material, back home, I started planning how I would make this whole project look different from school’s activities (who wants to think of school during summer vacations? Eh!). When they came the first day, they knew we would spend some time together, yet they did not figure what would be the plan.

So after presenting the various objects, I distributed to each his and her share, they had some time to get familiar with each piece of their kit… this is where and when they started sharing in a very excited tone what they would do this or that, and how… It was a real promising start, I could breathe!

These three weeks were an amazing excursion. From designing a movie scenario, to prepare the ingredients to make a salad, to tell a story, to drawn and guess what a fruit is opposed to what a vegetable is, we also designed the solar system using the back of a carton dish, some wooden sticks and some coloured play dough…

The following days I could see in their curious eyes their guessing about the activity or the discovery of the day… Oh yes we used recycling material to create a forest, a lake…

Their comments assured me I was on the a pleasant track with them, even at times they mentioned that these little projects they created were better than the one at school (guess who’s ego was blooming! Aha!).

Yesterday was the last moment we had some activities (there’s still some wood craft colouring and painting but that’s a surprise!). At the end of the afternoon I was required to meet them in the dining room (aka the workshop!) when I got there, I saw a wonderful white chocolate and fresh fruit cake with a little tag saying thank you to the best grand dad! But also a certificate of accomplishment signed b the three of them! I sincerely felt tears of joy as my emotions were hardly controllable!

Yes! I did graduate to the best school in a whole lifetime! I was proud to get his certificate at 61 years old!

Michel – 2nd of August, 2014

A little note for my readers:

We never used a computer, a smart device, a tablet or internet. All the material we used for the whole duration cost a few dollars, without using techie-words we walked through the most innovative learning skills, these skills we spend tons of pages, millions of words, unimaginable theories to describe, to decode…. I did use what I discovered about storytelling, design thinking, mind mapping, instructional design, pedagogy, not forgetting empathy and care. Each one of my young ones followed a specific learning path, each one felt the inner satisfaction of grabbing and own knowledge… Don’t we all thrive to see the people we design educational programs to enjoy learning, to take ownership of the knowledge and feel good about their achievement? The real school is something live and real!

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