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Managing of Learning

The phrase Manager of Learning was defined by Béla Bánáthy, who conceived of the eleven leadership skills. We believe a Manager of Learning is not simply a teacher. Teaching connotes activities too typically requiring a lecture hall and a large number of desks. The phrase manager of learning is carefully chosen. The emphasis is on learning, not on what the instructor teaches. Our youth staff, as managers of learning, help the youth participants to become more effective leaders.

The Emphasis is on Learning

Managers of Learning are different from "teachers" or "instructors." They know that people are not blank slates empty of knowledge. They recognize that participants learn as individuals, not as a class or group. They know each individual is important; therefore, each individual leader must learn or all will receive an inferior experience. Whoever accepts the responsibility for managing learning must use unusual techniques to get unusual results.

A Learning Discovery Process

The Manager of Learning (previously known in some circles as Effective Teaching) competency is more complex than other leadership competencies we develop. Manager of Learning describes a  system for exposing learners to the need to know and involving them in their own learning. We believe the focus is always on the participants' learning, not the teacher's teaching.

Manager of Learning has four steps:

  1. Guided Discovery
  2. Teach/Learn
  3. Application
  4. Evaluation

Improving Attitudes, Skills, and Knowledge

By learning, we mean the gaining of knowledge, the improvement of skills, or the development of attitudes in a certain area. Sometimes this is abbreviated to "KSA." Attitudes are obviously more important than skills or knowledge— after all, what is the barber going to do with that razor?— it might be better to turn it around to ASK! And it happens that asking, rather than telling, is perhaps the main difference between a teacher and a manager of learning. We ask, because maybe the learner already knows.

Maybe they know but haven't realized that it applies in this situation. Or maybe they don't know they don't know. So we ask him, first. This asking comprises the first of the four steps of manager of learning, the Guided Discovery. A combination of attitudes, skills, and knowledge are usually needed to operate successfully in any specific area.

Attitudes are the most important and are the most difficult to acquire. Research has proved that learning is more lasting when individuals modify their attitude or belief systems. The Manager of Learning is most effective when he embraces techniques that influence attitudes. For example, once participants have settled into camp and built a relationship with their youth staff counselors, we stage a public "dressing-down" of their counselor. Participants are often shocked by the action, and the entire team is usually thrown into turmoil. During a debriefing, we expose the mock dressing-down and use the experience as an opportunity to explore concepts of team work, loyalty, communication, counseling, and other leadership skills. Simple, lay counselling techniques are often used to enable a learner to see a need for change—a change in his attitude— and accept the help you or members of his patrol or others can give him.

Not Lock-step

The Manager of Learning process is not lock-step but at the learner's own pace of discovery. It is a heuristic learning process, because learning is:

  • Open ended. Not confined to one "right way".
  • Cyclical— new learning is based on old learning plateaus.

MOL is not only one of the competencies taught in Junior Leader Training, it is a method for leadership development which is essential to participatory leadership development. We not only teach a competency called Manager of Learning, but we should be applying its principles in everything we do during the learning program.

Learn more about leadership. Find out which phase is right for you or apply for camp today.