The Trainer Becomes the Student

July 20, 20122 min

I recently had the opportunity to attend a class – Accelerated Learning by Dave Meier – and it was quite interesting to be a student rather than the instructor.  I was very interested in the topic since I have spent a lot of my time studying and practicing with Sharon Bowman’s teaching approach, Training From the Back of the Room.  Sharon’s work is derivative of Dave Meier’s work and I was curious to learn about Accelerated Learning directly from the author of the concept.

GeodesicDome6These are the concepts that Dave highlighted that I felt were different from Sharon:

  • If the learners do not make something with the information you give them, they will not retain it.  This is probably a point I missed from Sharon’s writings rather than something she omitted.  If you are at all familiar with Sharon’s work, it is all about the students making and creating their own ways of remembering what you teach them.
  • Provide a smorgasbord of options for the learners that plays to the strengths of each individual’s unique learning style.  It is up to the instructor to tailor the course with a variety of activities that gives the learners options to choose from.  Not everyone has to the do the same thing at the same time.
  • Dave makes a big point to discuss what he calls geodesic, or networked, age of learning which signifies the end of what he calls the age of linear learning.  From what I understand, during the geodesic age information exists in nodes and the key is learning how to access the nodes and increase your connections to other nodes in the network.  This is information relates more to Dave’s philosophy regarding education and the weakness of most contemporary forms of education – they are too linear.

Here are the main things I (re)learned to appreciate from the perspective of the students:

  • When you are a learner, sometimes you do not know what is going to come next in a class and this causes tension.  To help the students in this regards, the instructor needs to pay attention to previewing what are the next steps in the course.
  • Other times, the purpose or goal of activity for the students is not immediately clear when you are asked to do something.  In this case, the instructor should be sure that they link the activity to the instructional material and\or the learning objectives.
  • A two-day class needs to have more than six people to be truly engaging.  While I enjoyed the company of the my fellow classmates, with only six people you are limited by their experiences and their personalities.  If some participants are not naturally sociable, then the social interactions stall which causes the peer-to-peer learning to stall.