World Scouting Reference Paper No. 1:
Training: What is it All About?
By Béla H. Bánáthy
Take a piece of paper and describe the last training
session you conducted, observed, or attended. What happened? Who did
what? What did the staff do? How about the participants? What did they
do and what kind of capabilities did they acquire? In your description
try to be as specific as you can possibly be.
Compare your description with my account of two training
events presented below under Program "A" and Program "B".
Reading these two programs you will find that the topic and context of
these two training events are alike; the ways the events are conducted,
however, are very different. It is this difference which constitutes
the basis of my examination, and it is the analysis of this difference
which will help me to answer the question stated in the title: Training:
What is it all about?
I will describe the two programs based on the questions
I have asked in the introductory paragraph.
||In the training area, charts are displayed with planning
slogans. As the participants arrive, they are seated and the staff
in charge explains the program of the session.
||The day before, the written objectives
of the session are distributed and participants are asked to modify
them to fit their own interests and needs.
||First tell them what you will tell them.
|The night before the session, teams of
5 to 6 participants are asked to prepare a plan for their hike which
will take place during the last day of the course.
||The staff presents a skit in a humorous
vein - about two trainers who forget to plan ahead. The moral of
the skit is brought out by the staff in charge who lists reasons
why we should know how to plan.
||Upon arrival at the session, participants first individually,
then in teams, are asked to list those aspects of their training
responsibility which call for competence in planning. Teams report
their lists to the entire group and a master list is developed.
||Tell them why!
|Next, teams exchange and evaluate each
other's plans which they prepared last night and share their findings.
||The staff, using a flip chart, delivers a presentation
on steps of good planning.
Trainees are asked to take
notes. At the end, questions are answered by the staff in charge.
|Teams are asked to describe steps of good planning. They review
a programmed filmstrip on: "Guide to Planning". The program
requires individual and group responses and it has built-in quizzes.
It leads participants to develop a scheme for planning, which they
compare with the one they earlier developed and resort their findings.
||Exposure to how to evaluate planning.
||In support of the main presentation and to demonstrate steps of
good planning, a motion picture is shown to the group on a planning
||Teams now rewrite their original hike plan, exchange plans and
evaluate each other's plans, and prepare their revision of the plan.
|Teams evaluate the competence. gained during the session
against the stated objectives and report on their findings to the
||The staff highlights the teachings of the film and questions on
the film are answered by a panel of staff.
|| Teams prepare a set of questions for general
discussion. questions presented are answered by the participants
and by the staff.
||The staff in charge presents a summary of the session.
||Teams are asked to choose one aspect of the session and prepare
a summary on it and present it to the whole group.
||Tell them what you told them!
||Teams reveal what they learned.
||The staff challenges the group to follow steps of
good planning in all their future programs.
||Participants prepare their own planning objectives
for the next six months. Following the session, individuals discuss
their objectives with their counselors.
||The notes taken by the participants during this session will be
evaluated by the staff.
||The reports of the participants on the attainment of their six-month
objectives will be the basis to evaluate the success of this program.
What Did the Staff Do?
|The staff explained the program of the session, put on a skit on
planning, and presented reasons why one should learn to Plan. Next
they delivered a lecture on good ways of planning, demonstrated planning
by presenting a film, answered questions, and summarized the session.
Finally, they evaluated the trainees' notebooks.
It was indeed a
During the project the staff coordinated the inter-team activities,
took care of the programmed filmstrip presentation, managed the question-answer
and summary periods, and worked with the teams as resource personnel.
The staff really did not seem to do too much during the session.
Note: In this process the competencies include how to
- Get and give information
- Get to know and know how to use the resources of the group
- Plan and make decisions
- Know the characteristics of member of the group
- Keep the group agreeable to members
- Control and correct
- Manage learning
- Represent the group
- Set the example
- Share leadership
What Did the Participants Do?
|Participants, upon arrival at the training area, were
seated. They listened to the presentations and took notes. Twice
during the two-hour session two or three participants asked questions.
Compared to the staff, the participants really did not do much.
|Participants studied the project objectives, modified
them to meet their own needs and planned for their hike. Upon arrival
at the session, they listed reasons for learning how to plan, compared
their lists with others, and developed a master list. Teams exchanged
and evaluated their hike plans and developed a planning scheme and
modified it based on the filmstrip. They revised their hike plans
and evaluated each others plans, prepared and answered questions,
summarized and prepared long-range objectives for planning.
were always acting, doing something during the project.
What Capabilities Did the Participants Acquire?
|From their notebooks we know that they took notes during the session,
but we don't really have any other evidence as to what they have
learned, except that they sat for two hours, and a few of them asked
||They can work with objectives, can evaluate performance against
objectives and can prepare objectives of their own. They know why
planning is needed. They can prepare plans according to a planning
guide and can evaluate plans for correctness. They can develop long-range
planning objectives. They can also work in teams.
Now compare your account of a training session with
the two descriptions above. You will find that the program you described
is probably similar to one of the two. I suspect that it will be more
likely "A" then "B".
Let us go back to the two examples I described and
examine them. Reread example "A". What characterizes this program?
Then read "B" and ask the same question. What did you find
Let me share with you my findings.
||A course syllabus is available which outlines the session and which
guides the performance of the staff.
||Performance objectives are prepared and individualized which clearly
state what the participant will be able to do and know at the outcome
of the project. These objectives guide the activities of both participants
||The teaching plan is developed by the staff as an implementation
of the syllabus.
||It is determined what has to be learned by the participants
to enable them to perform the way described in the objectives.
||Presentations, lectures are prepared and visual aids
selected to support the teaching program.
||Learning experiences will be selected which will ensure
the experience needed to master specific learning tasks.
||Subject matter is presented through instruction or
||Much of what is to be acquired is discovered by the
learners themselves and is learned by them as they accomplish things
during the project.
||The staff conducts training sessions with the whole
The program is conducted in large and small groups
or on an individual basis in settings which are best suited for
the attainment of learning tasks.
||The group of trainees sits, listens, and takes notes.
Members of the staff are actors on the instructional scene. They
control the training group and furnish directions and information.
||The individual is involved actively and intensively
as an actor on the learning stage. The staff is involved in managing
the learning environment and in setting the stage for learning in
order to facilitate the success of the learner.
||The progress of the training group is evaluated by
||Progress is dependent mainly upon self-direction and
self evaluation. Participants assume responsibility for their own
||Teaching is in focus: the trainer is the actor
and the trainees are the audience.
||Learning is in focus: the trainee is the actor; and
the trainer becomes the manager of learning.
The two descriptions above present two contrasting
modes: the teaching focused, and the learning-focused training modes.
These two modes can be represented by two contrasting diagrams.
Training Mode A
Training Mode "A" can be depicted like the
Trainer presents subject to trainee. We have already
said that in this mode the trainer appears to be the actor on the training
scene. The environment is organized in order to optimize his performance.
Training aids are used to enhance teaching. Trainees are the audience
and are expected to pay attention to the performance of the staff.
The size of the trainee group is usually limited only by our capability
to control the group. It has often been remarked that if Mode "A" is
realized, the instructional performance may as accomplished even without
the presence of trainees. What I am saying simply is that in Mode "A",
the key activity is: Trainer presents subject. (In the diagram above,
the shading of the arrow leading from the trainer to subject indicates
Training Mode B
Training Mode "B" on the other hand, can be
diagrammed like this:
Arrangements are made in the
environment of the learner which communicate to the learner the learning
task so that he can explore and master it. Learning tasks are knowledge,
skills, and attitudes which the learner is to acquire in order to be
able to perform in the way defined in the objectives.
In Mode "B" the singular form "learner" is
used. It is the learner who is the actor on the scene and arrangements
are made around him in order to help him to master his learning task. "Arrangements" as
a term stands for a lot of things, such as the selection and organization
of learning experiences by which the learner is confronted with the learning
task; the management and motivation of the learner; the assessment of
the progress he makes; the selection of people and other resources which
take part in the arrangements; scheduling, etc. (In an extreme form of
Mode "B" all these things can be done by the learner).
The key activity in Mode "B" is: The learner
masters the learning task. (In the diagram above, the shading of the
arrow indicates this idea.)
In conclusion of our discussion of the two modes,
I suggest that: Mode "A" represents the traditional conventional
training mode and this mode still prevails in most of our training courses.
Mode "B" on the other hand, appears to
be the emerging pattern. It is now observable in some innovative projects.
My commitment lies with this learning task centered, "B" mode;
yet while making this commitment, I hasten to emphasize that I do not
intend to promote a conflict between learning and instruction. The significance
of instruction is not questioned here at all. The point that is made
here is that the learning task is the nucleus around which to design
instruction. The role and function of instruction should be viewed in
its proper relationship to learning. It should be planned for and provided
for accordingly. Instruction is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Its function is to facilitate learning.
As you have considered the two modes, you have probably
said to yourself: Wait a minute I Things are rarely such either-or, black
or white, as suggested by the contrast. Of course you might be right.
Many of us may operate in a mixed mode. I may have exaggerated the contrast,
but I wanted to make it clear that the difference between the modes is
crucial. We definitely have a choice.
But what makes us operate in one mode or in the
other? Why is it difficult for some of us to move into Column B, even
though we wish to be there? What are some of the forces and influences
which hinder this move? There are probably many. I'll propose a few.
First and foremost. we are influenced by our conception
of the learner. According to a still prevailing conception, the learner's
mind is considered to be an empty container which has to be filled with
knowledge. The trainer's job is to present knowledge. to pour it into
the mind of the learner. The trainee is to receive and store the information
presented. In order to be able to do so, he is expected to be attentive,
to listen, and to take notes. In this mode, the trainee is just a receiver.
This conception underlies the teaching-centered training mode and determines
much of what goes on in our training courses today.
But there is a new conception which seems to be
emerging now and which becomes the basis of the learning-centered mode.
The learner is now viewed as one who is seeking new knowledge and skill;
he initiates and manipulates, rather than just receives or is Just manipulated.
Discovery and inquiry appear to be the preferred ways of doing and learning.
As a result, learning comes into focus and it becomes a self-generated,
self-rewarding endeavor. The trainer s role becomes more that of a stage
manager, rather than the actor on the scene. Learning is the key act
and the learner becomes the actor. Wanting to act in Mode "B" is
not enough. although it is the first crucial step. We have learned to
realize that conducting a training event in Mode "B" requires
a much more intensive and extensive staff preparation than our conventional
way of doing training. The staff itself has to go through specific learning
experiences in order to acquire competence to become guides and managers
of learning, rather than actors on the instructional scene. A lack of
staff involvement in the process of self-development for the new roles
in the new mode is probably the most outstanding reason why we cannot
operate in Mode "B" I know of programs where attempts were
made to act in the new mode without, however, proper staff preparation.
The results were disastrous.
Next we are, of course, influenced by our own experiences.
Most of us grew up in the Mode "A" type instructional environments
and dreamed to cope with, and live by, this mode. As the majority mode
is still "A", many of us find a certain security in going along
with it. It often invites criticism or even ridicule if one acts in the "B" mode.
In closing, let me return to the question I have
raised in the title:
Training: What is it All About?
If you are happy with your present ways of doing
training, then, of course, you have your own answer to this question
and you will probably keep on emulating Mode "A". If, on the
other hand, you share the dissatisfaction many of us have about this
mode and if you have at least a feeling for Mode "B" then you
might agree with me that:
Training is a process with a purpose. It is a process
of the learner moving from a state wherein he cannot yet perform as the
described purpose of the training to a state when he can demonstrate
such performance. This move is what training is about. Training is the
making of specific arrangements in the environment of the learner which
provide him with experiences by which he can confront and master the
learning task, by which he can be transformed to the state when he can
perform as desired.
It is probably the greatest challenge for us in training
today to break the conventional training mode patterned according to the
subject-centered, trainer-performer mode. and create a fresh mode in which
learning tasks come into focus and the learner becomes the key performer.