With Margin to Spare

Presented by:   Rich Benkowski   

Monday, March 25 from 8:45 AM until 10:00 AM, Sonoma A

According to Merriam-Webster margin is defined as “a bare minimum below which or an extreme limit beyond which something becomes impossible or is no longer desirable.” Theorists agree that no single explanation exists to define adult learning; however, many models and profiles illuminate characteristics of how adult comprehension can be augmented. In 1963, Howard McClusky introduced the “Theory of Margin.” McClusky’s premise analyzes the emotion and stress of adult life through a mathematical equation: In the formula, load means “the self and social demands required by a person to maintain a minimal level of autonomy” (S. M. Grabowski, Adult Learning, and Instructions, 1970). By contrast, power refers to peoples’ resources, such as abilities, possessions, allies, etc. McClusky further proclaims, “When Load continually matches or exceeds Power and if both are fixed and/or out of control, or irreversible, the situation becomes highly vulnerable and susceptible to breakdown” (Merriam Caffarefella, Learning in Adulthood, page 280). Through the McClusky lens appears a load which test the extent of available power, putting the success of the program at risk for overload. The mathematical influence in McClusky’s presumption clearly demonstrates that when load becomes larger than power the result is greater than one, meaning more things to accomplish than one person can handle properly. Culturally, every instructor involved in technical training strives for the best opportunity for every learner seeking employable skillsets. Are you preparing to give the right material with the right quality to the right student at the right time? Emerging technologies challenge the limits of what can be comprehended by the attendees trusting you to manage training modules. Are institutional resources available to you to add power to your lesson plan? Does your classroom offer a load reduction to your learners? Residing in our buildings are young adults trying to launch a career and a family at the same time. Let us now move away from system analysis and ask ourselves to evaluate our margin in life. How many of you think that you have too much time to prepare your lesson plan? How do you know when to say when? “When” means a achieving a result greater than one. Adults are driven by both the need for self-preservation and the need for self-improvement. Adults with margin in life will have the motivation to pursue self-improvement endeavors. As stewards of the delivery system for a productive workforce in the service industry you and your administration have a responsibility to manage the margin of the program. Please remember to leave margin for your own undertakings!