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Junior Leader Training -- White Stag Leadership Development

The Manager of Learning Method

When learning happens, people’s behavior change. We believe that this change takes place when an individual engages in a process of perception, practice, and performance. This sequence is rigorously adhered to in the White Stag plan.

Participants are given realistic opportunities to practice what they learn and to make mistakes under close supervision. Any problems they experience can be quickly spotted by staff, feedback given, and with continued improvement, the member gains increased confidence prior to experiencing the pressure of a real situation.

In White Stag, we purposefully shift attention from instruction to learning.1

Our founder Béla Bánáthy recognized2:61 that the purpose of the instructional system is "learning" (p.24), not "instruction." He wrote that if a learning environment was the true focus, then rigid scheduling would be eliminated (we learn at different rates), in addition, the learner would be on stage, rather than the teacher (who is there to help manage the learning environment).

Banathy described Marianne Hedegaard's juxtaposition of two educational systems:

  • In the first, the learner reacts to the teacher's active role. The teacher selects content and experience and the learner reacts to what is presented. The organizes the content and experience and the learner passively connects them. In addition, a learner's unique motives are rarely accepted or encouraged.
  • In the second system, the learner is in charge. The learner actively selects content and learning experiences and the learner actively organizes them. White Stag favors the second system.

Banathy wrote that a systems approach like Manager of Learning is multi-directional, in that it not only allows feedback, but it also has feed-ahead or feed-forward strategies for selecting learning experiences. Thus, systems are dynamic, rather than linear as some people would like us to believe.

The Manager of Learning method, in brief:

  • Confronts the learning group with a situation in which the use of the competence to be learned is required. This helps them realize the need for increased competence and thus creates a desire to learn. We've labeled this a Guided Discovery.
  • Introduces the learning program in a workshop situation where the competency is demonstrated and practiced. Call this Teach/Learn.
  • Applies the learned skill in situations similar to--or identical with--the original "confrontation." (See step 1 above.) The group can readily recognize the "new way of doing things" and their increased competence. This is the Application.
  • Confronts the group--unexpectedly--with novel situations in which the competence is to be used; group evaluates the application of the competence. This is the Evaluation.
  • Helps individuals formulate operational and measurable objectives for the application of the newly-acquired competence in the back-home situation in and out of Scouting.

All of the program participants' leadership development activities are scheduled and systematically programmed using the MOL structure.

The main characteristics of the MOL methodology are:

  • Stresses the practical aspects of the leadership job.
  • Presents concepts only when applicable to the task and presents them within the frame of reference of the specific task.
  • Presents the practical context of the job as soon as possible.
  • Introduces a series of leadership tasks that increase the participants's desire for knowledge of new principles, concepts, skills and techniques.
  • Presents learnings if possible in the same sequence as they would occur in the actual leadership task.

The MOL competency is described in much greater detail Resources for Leadership, Chapter 18, Manager of Learning.

^[1] Bánáthy, B. (1964).

^[2] Bánáthy, B. (1968). Instructional Systems. Palo Alto, California: Fearon Publishers.