Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stop training. Start Learning.

As we approach August, a lot of professional development initiatives are ramping-up. A word that drives me nuts is "training".

It is a pretty bland word and it has gotten to be so prevalent we don't think much about it, Here is what bugs me though. The results of training are mindless. We train monkeys to ride bikes. We train bears to ride bikes and we know from YouTube that letting them race is a really bad idea. Football coaches train linemen to take the proper footwork so the player can put all energy into exerting physically without having to think. Choreographers do the same with dancers.

Teaching is a creative, artful process that takes constant decision making and reflection. When you "train" a teacher to use a piece of technology you are essentially just programming them to use it in one way without thinking about the device or app's full capabilities or new ways learning can be impacted. When we are in the "training" mindset we get future questions like "Who said it was okay to use Google Chrome? They showed us Firefox."

That type of thinking is inherently a death nail to innovation and problem solving. All we create when we train is very expensive robots that are easily distracted by "The Bachelor", Kardashian's, and fantasy football.

This might be semantic hair-splitting, but consider the alternatives available. When I lead professional development sessions I really try to adopt the "lead learner" approach. I state right away that by no means do I know everything about what I am sharing and that my presentation should simply be a launching point for conversation and many questions that begin with "What if...'. I want my co-learners to share their ideas. This creates an atmosphere of collaboration and an expectation that the conversations and exploration will be ongoing and not just a one-shot lesson in button pushing. That type, the training type of PD doesn't stick. Learning sticks!

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