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Saturday, September 22, 2012

The trainer who knows too much – and wants to tell it all

When I was in college, I enrolled in a course on Linear Algebra. I did not expect this course to be particularly challenging – in fact that was one of the reasons I registered for that course. In the first class, the professor introduced the subject briefly and plunged into the content straightaway. As time passed, he started overwhelming the class with a barrage of information. Obviously, he knew a LOT about the subject and was sincere in his intention to pass on much of that knowledge to the class. The subject matter was delivered thick and fast, and the class had little time to even make occasional notes, leave alone understand the material. And the professor made absolutely no effort to engage the audience – he couldn’t have cared less if we existed or not. He knew the subject, he would talk about it in detail, and that was it. It was not his concern if the class understood or was even interested.

By the end of that first class, I was more than a little worried. If the very first class was so unfriendly and overwhelming, how would the rest of the classes be? And I shuddered to even think of the exams. I talked to a few other students from the class, and was relieved to hear that they were even more worried than I was! Thankfully, it was not just me. Most of us decided to drop out of the course while we could still do so.

Later, I talked to a few of my senior students who had been through the same course under the same professor. They told me of similar feelings on the first day of class, but assured me that the exams would be very easy. They suggested I wear a pair of earphones and listen to music to pass time in the class, and just practice the questions from the printed notes and I would get through the course with no trouble. They assured me that the professor was in reality a kind man, although a rambling sort of gentleman. The problem with him was that he was over-enthusiastic about delivering as much content as possible. I trusted them and got through the course. Years later, after I became a trainer myself, the memories of that course re-surfaced in my mind. I would never become an instructor like that professor, I promised myself. I hope I have kept up this promise ;-)


  1. I sometimes see myself as this type of trainer. Do you have any suggestions to avoid this?

  2. Hello MechanizedMedic, in my experience, the best way to avoid becoming this kind of trainer is to develop discipline. I try to make a list of things to be covered in a training session and try to finish them first. If time permits, I try to provide more information to the trainees. Also, I try to sense the interest level of the trainees. If I think I am losing them, I don't keep dumping more and more on them. Hope this helps.