the cover story in the december issue of t+d magazine was the future of the profession formerly known as training. (sorry, can’t do a hyperlink ’cause the web version is only for astd members.) in the article, the author reports the result of a survey conducted by astd which asked people in our profession how they thought our profession should be identified. only 32.4% of the respondents included the word “training” in their answer. (workplace learning and performance was the largest single answer at 31.9%)
so are we trainers? are we professionals who help people learn? are we performance managers? in my bio in the “about me” section of this blog, i identify myself as a learning professional. before i get into my reasons for that, let’s look at a few definitions. (weren’t we taught that rhetorical devise in middle school? or did we learn it?)
pronunciation: (trA’ning), [key]
1. the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained: He’s in training for the olympics.
2. the status or condition of a person who has been trained: athletes in top training.
1. of, pertaining to, or used in or for training: a training manual.
2. intended for use during an introductory, learning, or transitional period: a training cup for weaning a baby; a training bra.
“training.” infoplease.com dictionary.
© 2003 family education network.
30 jan. 2004 http://www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0699474.html
pronunciation: (lûr’ning), [key]
1. knowledge acquired by systematic study in any field of scholarly application.
2. the act or process of acquiring knowledge or skill.
3. psychol.the modification of behavior through practice, training, or experience.
“learning.” infoplease.com dictionary.
© 2003 family education network.
30 jan. 2004 http://www.infoplease.com/ipd/A0513302.html
these two definitions point to one of the reasons iprefer to think of myself as a learning professional. training is something that is done to someone. (“is being trained” “has been trained”) learning is something that one does. i think most of us have experience, many of us on both ends of the transaction, that has shown us exactly who is in control of the educational situation – the learner! An award winning teacher could teach herself blue in the face and fail to teach her pupil anything if he wasn’t interested in learning it.
the reverse situation is true too. some of you have heard my story about my accounting 102 class in college. my roommate and I were both taking principles of accounting our freshman year. through the entire first semester, class consisted of listening to the professor read the textbook outloud! i mean, come on! accounting basics is already a boring class to go through, but this professor took boring to the ultimate limits. (of course, in my memory his voice was monotone too. but i’m not sure about that part!) as the second semester was about to get underway i asked my roommate if he was going to go to classes. he replied “i guess, why?” i explained my scheme to him. since the professor didn’t require attendance as part of the grading system (it would surely have violated the geneva conventions on the welfare of prisoners!), i was going to skip all the classes except the exams. at the end of the semester i finished the course with a score of 110 out of 100 (yeah, i even got the extra credit questions right). you’d be very hard pressed to convince me that i was taught that content. but, since it was my major, i had a reason to want to learn it.
i like thinking of myself as a learning professional because it reminds me that it’s my job to help the learner along his or her chosen path. not a path of my choosing.
a second reason i like thinking of myself as a learning professional is the fact that it simultaneously allows me to recognize that i’m a learner too. if i think of myself as a teacher who teaches what i know to others, i feel like i’m facing the wrong direction. if i think of myself as a learner who is helping other learners learn, then i feel like i’m heading toward the future.
well, that’s enough of me. hit that comments button and let me and the other readers of this blog know what you think. as always, if you have any suggestions for topics for this blog, email dave.
note to gap colleagues: i have a hard copy of the t+d article if you’d like to borrow it.