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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

Are you training people
or developing leaders?

Another way to think about this is to ask, "What is the difference between teaching and manager of learning?" Both utilize similar behaviors.

Training people

If you are teaching or training people, you're thinking about three things.

The focus is on the instructor

The instructor's knowledge is superior to the participants. The instructor is an authority figure requiring respect. He is in on stage and in control. He controls the learning activities, teaching methods, and the amount of information students receive. The instructor organizes, selects and controls the learning environment, the content he is delivering, the timing, and the degree and quality of student participation. The student reacts to the instructor and passively connects what the instructor delivers. The instructor expects the student to retain the information the instructor believes is important. The primary method of instruction is one-to-many, typified by lecture. The focus is on what the instructor knows and does, not on the learner’s behavior. For example, the NYLT Staff Guide advises the youth staff to “know your subject very well,” to “show respect for your learners by being organized,” and “have an attitude of caring … using … your body language – to show that you are open and care.”

The subject of instruction is finite

When you receive training, you know there is a time and day when it will end. You expect to get a certificate. You look forward to acquiring a specific skill. Wikipedia defines training as ...the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and competencies as a result of the teaching of vocational or practical skills. For example, youth can only take the NYLT course once. From among the approximately 305 councils, only a relative handful are able to attend the one of eight sessions of National Advanced Youth Leadership Experience (NAYLE) at Philmont. The continuum of leadership is very limited.

The instructor assumes the students know nothing

The instructor treats all participants equally, working from the presumption that all are starting from the same learning point. The students are Tabula rasa, blank slates, upon which he will inscribe his knowledge. He starts at the beginning of what he has to teach and stops when he is done. Instruction is rigidly scheduled, linear, and programmed. The students may not choose which portion of the content is relevant to their needs. The instructor targets the content to meet the needs of the average student. The learner’s unique motives are rarely accepted or encouraged. For example, the NYLT guide never asks participants what they know. The canned content is served up via DVD to everyone regardless of what they might know.

Developing people

When you're developing people, you're managing their growth.

The focus is on the learner

The instructor engages the students as partners in the learning process. He recognizes that participants learn as individuals, not as a class or group. He provides learning experiences that utilize a variety of teaching methods. These methods engage the students senses. He assumes individuals learn at different rates and plans accordingly. He provides activities that meet a variety of student learning styles. He gives students opportunities to apply what they have learned in realistic scenarios simulating their reality. These learning experiences give students opportunities to add to what they already know. He creates learning experiences that engage students physically and kinesthetically. He creates situations in which students must apply the newly acquired skills, knowledge and ability.

The subject of instruction is infinite

The instructor recognizes that individuals have an innate desire to learn and continually grow. He continually adds to what he already knows and is prepared to teach. He understands that his students have diverse backgrounds and experiences that can add to what he knows. He structures continuous learning opportunities for students that enable them to improve.

The instructor assumes the learner already knows something

The instructor seeks to find out what the student already knows and to add to it. He facilitates learning by asking questions that invite the students to think. He strives to communicate in a language that is meaningful to the students. He utilizes advanced students to teach less other students who are less knowledgeable. He strives to improve the entire group’s knowledge, skill and ability.

To develop youth leaders, we need to assume that their minds and hearts have unlimited potential. Otherwise we might as well wait until they are adults and just train them.