By Bob Pike
Are you a trainer—or an educator—and why is the difference so critical?
I once was asked to be the opening keynote speaker at a national conference for people who trained first responders: emergency medical technicians, paramedics, etc. As I prepared for the presentation, I asked this question: “Is there anything I need to be particularly sensitive to—topics, vocabulary, etc?”
The response was, “Yes, do not use the word, ‘trainer.’ Our attendees are called educators, not trainers.”
That answer set up my entire presentation. I started by saying, “I’m a trainer. Let me explain why I am a trainer, and not an educator. Perhaps you’ll want to be a trainer, too.” I went on to explain that I had taught graduate courses at three universities and that never once had I been responsible for students passing my courses. My job is to teach the course. Your job is to pass the course. If you do not pass the course, it is not my fault. I can prove that I covered everything needed to pass from my lesson plans. You just did not learn it.
This may sound harsh—and perhaps it is not always true. And it’s certainly not how I really felt about my students. But as far as the universities went, it was the technical reality. The way that I differentiate education from training is that training is about learning for living, not learning to pass.
Too many students in academic settings cruise all semester long and then three days before finals, they start cramming. They grab the exam, go through it, and then reach a question where they think to themselves: “I know where that is. I highlighted it in yellow. I remember where it was, but I can’t remember what it is!”
Now imagine. A week later, the instructor walks into class and says, “Somehow your exams were lost. So this hour you’ll be retaking the exam.” What do you think the reaction would be of the average student? Do you think they’d be elated at having a second chance? Do you think that right after the exam they looked up all the things they were unsure of? Or do you think there’d be panic?
Now think about our own training—training that is learning for living instead of learning to pass. Can you imagine finishing a class—especially one where certification is involved—where students say, “Quick, test me right now. I know it now. I may not know it tomorrow or in a week, but I know it right now!” That’s not good enough.
Training is about applying knowledge and skills to get results. It is not knowledge alone. As a trainer, if you haven’t caught it, I haven’t taught it. Training is a partnership. My job is to inspire, empower, and equip you to get results.
So what can you do? Here are six things you can beginning doing now—if you’re not already:
Have a question you’d like Bob to answer? E-mail him at BPike@BobPikeGroup.com.
Bob Pike is known as the “trainer’s trainer.” He is the author of more than 30 books, including “Creative Training Techniques Handbook.” You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook using bobpikectt.