As part of the training, we were given a book to read: How to Give it so They Get It: A Flight Plan for Teaching Anyone Anything and Making it Stick, written by Sharon Bowman. As I have read through the book, there are concepts that apply to more than just students, job seekers, employers, and business owners. I would like to share a few of those thoughts and some of my own.
Mrs. Bowman shared the history of Horace Mann, the Commissioner of Education for the state of Massachusetts. In the 1850’s, Horace Mann had a vision of educating the entire United States of America. Horace thought his vision was the number one way to rid the country of social ills. His hypothesis was that having a country full of educated people meant there would be no unemployment. If people could read and write, they would be able to find a job. Having employment, people would not have to steal, so crime rates would go down. We would have the perfect society, he predicted.
Through the efforts of Horace Mann, public schools began. In order to work, public schools needed to maintain a low cost to students and families. Consequently, teachers were hired at low salaries to instruct the students. The school system also organized students by age and put as many students in a classroom as possible in order to teach the same material and have all students learn at the same pace. Does this sound familiar? The system still exists today with some minor changes of course. As we all see, the system has worked to some extent. We are a more educated society, but unfortunately, there are some changes that need to be made.
How many times in school did you get reprimanded for speaking out of turn or for not paying attention in class? With the traditional method, I know of many times I would personally be daydreaming of after-school activities or just trying to stay awake. The teacher was always in the front of the room lecturing and expecting the students to learn.
Mrs. Bowman’s method of teaching steps away from the traditional model of students only listening with total silence as the teacher teaches. She encourages instead to promote interaction and participation from students.
The same applies as we train new employees or teach in our homes with families. If we involve others in the teaching and learning process as a group, the retention of information increases as expectations and productivity also increase. As you evaluate the training processes of your organization, family, or home, ask yourself if your methods are those of lecturing or encouraging participation and learning as a group.