Teaching or Learning?

Do you have a focus when giving training? Sometimes, in my eagerness to 'teach' I forget to focus on something important. I forget that the lesson is about the student not me. I become more more concerned in my ability to be able to teach effectively. I want the student to come away feeling they have learned something.

Noble goals perhaps, but its nothing to do with training. Training is about the student, not the teacher.

Much more valuable is to focus on the student and provide a space for learning , giving people the opportunity to learn new things. Focusing on 'teaching' is about your ego. Its about you wanting to get something out of the training. I fell into this trap this week.

I wanted to 'teach' someone about testing. When their conclusion differed to the one I wanted them to come to, I got frustrated. "How", I thought, "am I going to be able to teach people about testing, if they don't learn the lesson"?

But I'm wrong. Its not about me being successful in teaching. Its about me providing a space for them to learn. In this case, they didn't see it. That ok. Not everyone is going to learn all the time. Thats ok too.

I miss stuff all the time. I don't get stuff, I miss traps, I fall into traps. I forget to ask questions...often. But thats ok too.

Missing stuff, making mistakes is part of what makes us human. Being human is special, its what we are all about and its something that we all have in common. (Except for Rob Lambert, I suspect he is an alien).

So, go forth and learn. Go forth and create learning opportunities. But you know what? If people don't learn from you, it doesn't mean you haven't taught well. Perhaps its simply that the lesson is for another day.

That was the lesson I learned today.


I was chatting to Pradeep Soundararajan online about training. I asked him his view on teaching, and learning. He gave some great reasons why perhaps people fail to pick up a lesson. He agreed to let me post them here:

[09/07/2010 18:16:31] Pradeep Soundararajan: Its not about people getting it always

[09/07/2010 18:16:51] Anne-Marie Charrett: how do you view it?

[09/07/2010 18:17:33] Pradeep Soundararajan: Many ways:

1: I think when people dont get it, they are helping us understand that we have probably not got it either.
2: When people dont get it, they may also have made the choice consciously. So, we don't need to bother when we identify it was their choice to avoid getting it.
3. When people dont get it, they may require alternatives of explanation. We might want to help them.
4. Learning is not an activity that can be time boxed for everyone. For some people, they need to go back and face a few contexts to get it.
5. I have received emails from people who told they got the value of my workshop not immediately but after an year.

Thanks Pradeep, these are great insights to share.