Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich Mindset


Many educators in the United States have heard of or “gone through” the incredibly creative Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Activity (capitalized due to the degree of importance of the activity) — alternative link here. This “enigmatic” activity’s goal is to illustrate the fact that, as Instructional Designers, we can’t assume the learner knows something because WE know it, we need to try to see instruction with the learner’s eyes and develop instruction FOR THEM, not for us. As so many people that have done this activity are asked to write clear directions on how to make a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich forget the basic steps like “open the peanut butter jar” or “spread the jelly with a spoon on the inside of both slices of bread”, etc. and the instructor pretends s/he doesn’t understand they have to open the jelly jar to THEN spread the jelly on the bread (pantomimically putting the whole unopened jar between the slices of bread), everyone has a “blast” and the activity proves that what is clear to the instructor isn’t clear to the learner many times.  

Well, being from another country (even though a language teacher that studied the culture of the US as well as the language as a whole), that activity gets me thinking: it fails in a diverse classroom. what if I my background knowledge has nothing related to peanut butter sandwich? What if I had NEVER made one or had no idea if I had to mix the peanut butter and the jelly? What if I didn’t know what type of bread to use with that sandwich? So many possibilities that point to the failure of considering a diverse audience when introducing this activity. It fails in what its very own intentions, which include considering your learner’s uniqueness. 

This is how many design instruction, they assume that knowing a certain audience they know all of them. The ubiquitous peanut butter sandwich activity is just a silly example of how we fail to accommodate or even be sensitive to diversity when we are preaching that very same topic…

enzofsilva

Instructional Designer, learner...

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