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What’s in a name?


A comment posted in response to the latest installment of Paul Kearns' excellent 21st century learning professional series A serious case of misdiagnosis caught my eye the other day. member Ian Rhydderch stated: “The term 'training' is getting some seriously negative connotations. To me training is about developing proficiency - embedding new habits and behaviours - I think this goes beyond 'learning' per se - I can learn to do something but if I want to be good at it I need to train to do it.”

I count myself probably guiltier than most in using terms like trainer, learning professional, training professional, L&D professional, learning consultant, learning leader interchangeably, usually according to context. Ian Rhydderch's comment has made me wonder why it is so easy to play this game of name tag.

Educators in the public sector are simply teachers or lecturers. While their roles, the courses and the way they deliver them may change – sometimes more often than they would like – the name stays the same. Solid, sturdy and descriptive. So why in the private sector are there so many terms to describe what you do?

Is it that the roles of those who work under the L&D/training banner are as diverse as all the terms that describe them?

Paul Kearns, writing in an earlier installment of the 21st century learning professional series Training isn't learning used an analogy of the medical field to explain the difference, as he sees it, between trainers and learning professionals.
“Trainers are the learning professional's poorer, distant cousins: they are the 'pharmacists' to the learning professionals' 'consultant neuro-surgeons', so to speak. Trainers (and that includes training designers) are only as good as the prescriptions that are handed in.”

Kearns, incidentally, goes on to add that, as a deliverer of training, he is also 'a pharmacist' in this context.

While the different terms may aim to bring clarity to the diverse roles under the training banner, are they successful in doing so, or do they actually create more confusion? And do the different terms add professionalism or undermine it?

I'd love to hear your comments and if there is some consensus as to what you as professionals would like to be called, then I shall refrain from my recent game of name tag.

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