Training or education?

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

So I just posted about the pitfalls of treating complex change as if it is merely complicated.

I see this happening on a smaller scale in areas like training and development. Workshops get reduced to a series of trite “deliverables” stripping the subject of its richness and – in my view – making participants feel either incompetent or cynical (or both).

I have a pet hate for the “happy sheets” dished out to participants at the end of workshops, which feel like a feeble way to explore the many things that could have taken place in the day.

I’m reminded of what Richard Farson (Management of the Absurd) has to say about the difference between training and education. (Let’s not get hung up on the words though).

Training… leads to the development of skills and techniques. Each new technique implicitly reinvents the manager’s job by adding a new skill requirement, a new definition of the task, and a new responsibility… but because techniques don’t work well in human relations, the manager is often unable to adequately discharge these new-felt responsbilities…

Training, says Farson, is about making everyone more alike – and most corporate training programmes seem to reek of that kind of dull conformity. He contrasts this with education:

Education, because it involves an examination of one’s personal experience in the light of an encounter with great ideas, tends to make people different from each other. So the first benefit of education is that the manager becomes unique, independent, the genuine article.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (in his book Flow) says

One of the key tasks of management is to create an organization that stimulates the complexity of those who belong to it.

Training so often fails to match up to that ideal.

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