Monday, March 29, 2010

Book Review: Beyond Words

So far I’ve been completely talking about Instructional Design. It’s an important skill for someone in the training field, but this week I thought I would try my hand at a book review.

About the Book

Title: Beyond Words: A guide to drawing out ideas
Author: Milly R. Sonneman
Year: 1997
Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Book Type: Nonfiction
Subject: Drawing skills for trainers.
Scope: Step-by-step instructions for creating quick drawings. Ways drawings can be used to improve communication, brainstorm, and clarify goals.


Beyond Words is broken down into three sections called “Toolkits.” The author uses scaffolding to build knowledge throughout the text. Each section discusses theory, skill building, cognitive process, and basic drawing figures.

Toolkit One discusses; the big picture; where to get visual inspiration; movement part one; basic presence; listening; overcoming your own fears of drawing; basic lines; shapes; color; letting; simple/basic drawings; and how to organize drawings.

Toolkit Two discusses; theories behind using drawings during training; movement advice; taking care of yourself; more on listening; overcoming your fears part two; basic symbols; and organization.

Toolkit Three discusses; personalizing your drawings; movement and energy with groups; presence and sustaining the self; more on listening; overcoming your fears part three.

My Reaction to this book

Beyond Words has been a great resource for me as I tried to incorporate drawings into training. It’s one thing to create drawings before class when you can take your time. It’s another thing to freehand images as you or your learners are speaking. It’s easy to read, and very informative. Before I read this book, I was very unconfident in my drawing skills. After spending some time with this book, however, I have felt increasingly more confident, and actually have had learners ask to take my drawings home with them. I have to say that I owe it all to this book.

If you already have confidence in your artistic abilities, this book might not be fore you. This book goes into drawing basics like how to draw a straight line, or how to consistently draw shapes like triangles. There are a lot of exercises where she asks the reader to get out a piece of paper and practice. She guides you through the process of developing your muscle memory, which may not be helpful for experienced artists. She also goes to great lengths to get you to stop worrying about drawing in front of people.


One of the reasons why I chose this book for my first review is because it has done wonders for my artistic ability, which is a skill I believe trainers should possess. I have learned that you don’t have to be Leonardo Da Vinci to draw mind maps and training art. This book provided me with a very useful foundation of artistic skill that I just couldn’t seem to attain on my own. I now have a repertoire of characters and shapes to use when I train live. If you’re a trainer and would like to be able to draw for your learners, pick up this book.

Overall Grade

A - I use what I learned in this book every time I train. Content is applicable. I would recommend this book to any trainer that wants to use art in the classroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment