unlearning and entraining

earlier this year there was an article on weblogg-ed listing things that trainers and teachers need to unlearn.

the best one is:

We need to unlearn the idea that learning itself is an event. In this day and age, it is a continual process.

this goes well with tim hurson’s idea of entraining for adult learners. in an interview with vern burkhardt from idea connection, hurson explains how corporate training can be a tremendous waste of resources.

I’ve noticed that training looks something like this: send people away for a couple of days, pour some good ideas into them, then send them back to work in the same environment, with the same people and with the same tools and with the same problems they left a few days before. Do we actually expect people to behave differently under those conditions? Isn’t it obvious that even if they try the new ways for a little while they will rapidly fall back into doing what they’ve always done? Without specific and sustained reinforcement of new skills, the new skills quickly dissipate.

What I call entraining is a way to approach skill development in a meaningful, effective, and long-lasting way. Entraining involves the creation of organizational structures; the use of new language to describe the new attitudes, skills, and behaviors; quick wins to reinforce the value of the new skills; and practice to embed the skills into habits.

unfortunately i see this happening all the time, and in many places i’ve worked and visited. if there isn’t a change in corporate culture to support the training that is provided, then the training may well have not even been provided in the first place, and that’s an important task item in the unlearn column.


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