Teaching is Not Training

I was reminded this week that teaching is not the same as training.  When we set out to inform people and fill them with information we are teaching.  But if we have the expectation that these same people need to be able to perform a task with the information obtained, then our focus needs to be on training instead.

Through some volunteer work I have been doing, I recognized that all of the instructors knew their content well, and how to perform their tasks, but had not been exposed to the techniques in training adult learners.  I proposed a workshop to the board of directors to train the trainers so their workshops would be more effective.  The response was immediate that they knew the instructors were struggling, and now they knew why.  “Yes, let’s train the trainers.”

In the corporate environment we often begin using “subject matter experts” as trainers because they know their stuff.  And then we assume that if you know how to do something you can tell someone else how to do it, and the telling part of that is often true.  Yet, what we need are people who both know their stuff and can train others to do the same things.  While training skills come natural to a handful of people, most need to learn how to train a topic.

Recently I have been getting requests from trade organizations to create workshops for HR and Training Managers to learn how to perform their jobs.  And while I am ready, willing and able, I am sadden that so many have not been provided the mentoring I was lucky enough to receive over the years.  We must train our trainers before we train others or we really are just spinning our wheels.

If you are training any skill, and can’t see the difference between teaching and training, ask yourself this clarifying question.  “Do you want your children to take Sex Education or Sex Training?”  You see, there is a time for teaching information, and a time to learn how to perform a task.  What are you responsible for?


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