When talking about the challenges facing both education and training today, one size no longer “fits all.” Stand-up instruction, videotapes, distance learning, books, desktop delivery of networked computer-based instruction, and multi-sensory E-Learning all have a place.

It is important for this nation to support education and training professionals in dealing with these increasingly complicated challenges that effect learning. The challenges facing trainers and educators outstrip the time-demands necessary to stay current.

In business and industry, an organization has chosen to focus certain time and money on training when either some process or function within the organization has gone awry or an edict-to-train has come down from high up in the organizational structure. It is at this point that the trainer has had to focus on the “who-to-be-trained” and the “what-to-use” components.

And, yet, that is what the successful trainer has to do — for isn’t having well-trained personnel going to ultimately be more valuable to those individuals – and, give more of an ROI to their organization in the long-term? Most importantly, we cannot assume that learning takes place just because instruction and learning materials are made available,

On the other side of this equation, Education used to be about either of two things: liberal arts emersion or trade school preparation. Each served a very useful and important purpose. Today, sadly, only the latter has emerged as still-important. Even our finest universities are, too often, forgetting their liberal arts history in order to push students into job-specific memorization and preparation. Consequently, far too many graduates of these fine universities have a narrow view of thought and a great preparation for a particular profession’s skill set. Education is becoming more and more, a “training institution,” and the result is a loss of the “thinking preparation” so necessary to our next generation of leaders and contributors.

We also see this same decline in our public school system. With the memorization/testing requirements foistered upon our youth by “No Child Left Behind,” fewer of our children are stimulated to think and be challenged by the diversity of thought one finds, for example, in “The Great Books.” Their excitement for learning and their natural curiosities are dulled.

Teachers and Trainers need to re-examine the learning needs of their students and their trainees. Educators need to, once again, exalt the diversity of our children — their passions for living and their inherent desire to learn! Critical thinking skills must become “Job One” in education (both in public schools and in our universities).

Trainers, on the other hand, need to remember that Skills Acquisition becomes the ultimate goal for improving the lives of one’s trainees — and for the organization they serve.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning