I sometimes like to visualize the learning process as being similar to the germination of a seed. When a seed is planted in the right conditions (soil, water, manure, nutrients, weather), it germinates automatically.
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Similarly, when a trainee is placed in the correct learning environment, an awakening of knowledge happens in his/her mind.
Three years back, I attended a three-day training course on instructional techniques. The course was conducted by a trainer from one of the world’s leading companies in this domain. It was a very intensive course, but when I was done, I had a strong feeling of satisfaction. I really came out of the training enriched in terms of knowledge that I could apply.
A remarkable thing about this course was the manner in which the trainer (who had flown in from overseas) created the right learning environment. Well before the course started, the trainer had sent a list of specifications – about the training room, layout of desks and chairs etc. A day before the actual start of the course, the trainer came to our company and spent a few hours transforming the training room into a great learning environment. There were posters and charts all over the wall – neatly and logically organized. The manuals and handouts were distributed on the tables, so there would be no distraction during the actual class. Teaching aids were arranged at strategic locations.
During the actual course, cellphones were strictly prohibited, as were laptops. For three tightly-packed days, we lived and breathed instructional techniques. By the end of the course, our mind was on a different level. I learnt the importance of creating the right environment. In fact, I would go to the extent of saying that, in the right environment, learning happens effortlessly – even automatically – like a seed germinating.
In this context, I am reminded of a beautiful quote – “The human mind is not a vessel to be filled in, but rather, a flame to be kindled”. Trainers should bear this firmly in their minds.