Professional Development Versus Training

Yippee.  I’m going to be trained today.

You can probably see the enthusiasm with which I’ve got my mind set.  In my mind, there’s nothing worse than being trained.  As I point out to folks, you train a dog to go outside.  You professionally develop teachers.  There’s a huge difference.

I think back to my university days and psychology classes about learning and, of course, we have the works of Ivan Pavlov.  He’s famous for a number of things but the one that still resonates with me is his work with classical conditioning and dogs.  In exchange for goodies, the stimulus, the dogs exhibit a trained behaviour, the response.  It works well and certainly that’s the way that I’ve always trained my pets to do tricks.  At least to the best of their ability and attitude on any given day.

Beauregard doing his trick for food
In computer “training”, you have much the same type of experience.  “Click here” and “this will happen”.  Classical.  And, if I ever get the opportunity with the same dummy scenario and situation, I’m able to repeat it.

But, I don’t want to be trained.  I want to be professionally developed.  I want the experience and knowledge of the presenter, to be sure.  But, I want that presenter to make the connections for me.  I want to show how I can use it in my practice.  I want to know what it looks like for a primary class, a junior class, an intermediate class, a senior class or in my professional capacity.  I want to know what learning I’m enabling.  I want to know why, in a fully crowded curriculum with competing priorities, that it’s worth my time to learn this and to make it part of what I do.

I want to know where to turn when I get stumped.  I want to know who else is using the successfully.  I want to know where to look for additional resources.  I want to know how to customise it for my particular reality.  I want to know who I can collaborate with to get the most from whatever it is that we’re doing.

Unfortunately, much “training” doesn’t address it.  Often, it’s a matter of expediently getting through all of the buttons and the options so that the material has been “covered”.  Yes, I want it “covered” but I also want to dig deeper.  I want to know the hows and wheres and whys and whynots that are more integral to the actual use of the content after the day of training has passed.

When learning is constructed in this fashion, it becomes far more valuable and I’m more likely to be in a position of using my new skills immediately.

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links for 2009-10-07