Teacher versus Trainer


One only need to experience a recent “trainer” with the State of California conducting a workshop that began “1, 2, 3 all eyes on me!” to know that many do not see the difference between a teacher and a trainer.  Turns out that with all the teachers in California being let go because of budget cuts, their “talents” are now being used to facilitate training programs.

Not only is this opening line a juvenile way to begin any adult learning event (and I have to wonder how many high school students would enjoy it either), it conveys the message that “I’m the teacher, all knowledge starts here, and if you are to learn today it must come from me to you!”  Give me a break!

Those of us that have majored in adult learning principles, realize that knowledge moves around the training environment and is a shared learning experience for the trainer and the participants.  These principles are also being used by many experienced teachers with outstanding success, but too many teachers believe that all knowledge originates from the front of the room.

Adults have their own experiences to draw on, and they have an abundance of real life stories that bring home the point of the lesson.  However, society as a whole sees value in teachers not on their ability to facilitate learning, but as sources of unending brilliance.

When we define education as knowing about a topic and training as the ability to perform tasks, it begs to ask the question why we spend so much time in K-12 and our college years learning about stuff, but not always knowing how to apply it to real life.  Corporate Trainers are tasked with just a few hours to achieve the learning objectives, and when employees can’t perform better, training takes the brunt of that failure.

Teachers do not have the same burdens to perform as trainers do.  Teachers must be able to demonstrate learning long enough to pass exams.  So what would happen if we reversed roles and teachers had to learn to be trainers?  Maybe instead of hiring unemployed teachers to train California employment curriculum we should hire unemployed trainers.  Would the results be different from “1, 2, 3, all eyes on me?”

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