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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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Those that know do, those that understand teach


Ever found yourself talking to a loved one about something important to you? Mostly it’s a joy to be able to share you thoughts, hopes or worries with this person. But what about the times when the other person seems not as ‘engaged’ in the conversation as you would like (maybe there’s a book/newspaper/TV program involved)?

How did you react? How did you respond? How often did you utter the immortal line “ you’re not listening to a word I say?”

How often was the response “yes I am, you said……”

Yet despite the fact that the other party can often repeat what’s just been said, sometimes almost verbatim, the frustration remains. Why? Because there is a world of difference between hearing what someone says & listening to what they are saying…

Or in other words, we can know something without understanding it. But what a difference it makes when we do understand; when the subject in hand isn’t something that we know a few facts about, but we have personal experience of what that feels like.

It’s a subject I am often asked – do you have to have experience of doing a job to train someone else to do it? Is it enough to know what the experts say? Do you not even need to know that, can you just create the right conditions and facilitate the group in such a way that your learners work it out for themselves?

It’s an interesting debate and one that gets to the heart of what makes training great.

Experience has shown me that learners place a great value on the ‘knowledge’ of the trainer, whilst trainers themselves value ‘credibility’ more.

It’s an interesting difference of opinion. Some would say it is a difference built on semantics; surely in this instance knowledge & credibility are the same thing?

Or is the difference between knowledge & credibility the same as the difference between listening & hearing or knowing & understanding?

For me personally, I believe that technical knowledge of the subject (the facts, the figures, the process, the models etc.) is of enormous benefit when building your credibility with learners. But knowledge on it’s own isn’t enough; it’s the understanding of what it feels like that brings it to life.

It’s the tales you have in your back pocket to illustrate a point. It’s the questions you can ask because you have a pretty good idea where a situation is headed. It’s the tips you can encourage others to share to maximise all the experience in the room. It’s also your skills as a trainer that tells you when to go ‘off piste’ & help leaners to address a specific problem & when to move on to another topic.

It’s all those things – it’s knowledge plus experience that brings that understanding and with that understanding comes credibility and learning. Or as Aristotle put it so beautifully: “Those that know do, those that understand teach

One Response

  1. Great Post

    Yes,  very interesting. Great insights of the author. Just as Albert Einstein said, "If you don't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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