Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Training Adult? What is the difference?

Adult training differs from other types of training kids, there are certain aspects that a trainer should know before embarking on training adult, regardless of the topic of the training. one of this aspects is knowledge on adult training: how adult learn, why adult attend training? and what is the best mythology to train adult?  It is not enough for a trainer to be aware that adult participants may have a better knowledge on the topic of the session more than he/she does, but a good trainer should know how to engage the participants and encourage them to share their knowledge and experiences. Lack of knowledge in adult learning methodology means that a trainer may, not by purpose, assume the rule of a traditional school teacher who thinks that he/she is the only one that hold the key to knowledge and information and “ students” should listen to him/her on a passive manner and if a “ student” makes a remark or a comment, the trainer may listen to him/her but in the end the trainer opinion is the correct one and the one that’s count.  A trainer that follow this training method risk losing  the audience who immediately block the trainer and stop listening to the topic altogether.  It is a human trait to think that as trainers we are expert in the topic and we have better knowledge and others should listen to us, that is not true as there is, almost always, among the audience someone who has more knowledge than you and you better be prepared to be challenged.
The second aspect is that a trainer should make sure that all the examples and scenarios of the training topic should be based on the context of the trainees, not the trainer. I believe that a good trainer should try, prior to the training, to gain some knowledge of the country and people he/she will train to help him/her ensure the relevancy of the examples presented during the session. We have, as trainers, always to remember that what interest us as trainers may not be of any interest to our audience/trainees, we should always remind ourselves  that people’s interest, values and worldviews differ from one country to another and even from one place to another within the same country.
 For me, adult training is the most rewarding experience, not because I like training, but because every time there is a training session I am always amazed of the knowledge, experience and wisdom that come some time from a participant you less expect. It is also very enjoyable for me on a ToT when we start the session and there are always one or two shy participants that are nearly in pain when presenting in front of their peers,   and by the end of the training they are standing confidently and actually enjoying what they do, that’s make being a trainer a worthwhile profession.  
Finally, I learnt through reading, training others and attending trainings that the most important quality of a good trainer is “ humbleness/modesty”, I find that this trait attract participants and engage them more than any show of knowledge, yes, a good knowledge on the training topic is essential and will gain you the appreciation of the participants, but if not accompanied by “humbleness” it may create a barrier between you and the trainees. Throughout may various experiences attending training and meeting many experienced trainers, I always find that the more knowledgeable the trainer is the more modest and down to earth he/she is and vice versa.  


Thank you so much for this reflection. I agree with you about customizing the examples as much as possible is very important. It is hard sometimes to do that working internationally on the first version of a training session - given language barriers - or not having the face-to-face relationships or in-country experience. The next best thing sometimes is to set up a structure so participants do the translation as part of the exercises.

One idea that I've been playing with recently is learning from adjacent practices - that is learning from another person's context -- here's a slide deck about it:

Would be curious to know what you think?

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