It is not enough for the participants in your class to simply memorize information. They need to learn it. Seth Godin addressed this topic in a recent blog post The difference between memorization and learning. Here are two key lines from that post:
In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.
………memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.
If your people, especially recruits, simply memorize the information presented in training they will likely be able to pass the test. They will however struggle to retain the information once the test is over and they will struggle to connect the dots between what they are being taught in each of the areas of training. They will also struggle to apply the information in the field.
Continuing to use block training, straight lecture, technique dominant teaching for physical skills lends itself to memorization, not learning. The Boot Camp style of training of “shut up and do what you are told” teaches compliance, memorization of rules and strategies to avoid getting in trouble and getting punished. It does not teach critical thinking, decision making and encourage questions, dialogue, discussion, debate and learning.
Two questions for you:
- Does the culture of your training promote memorization or create an environment that fosters learning?
- Have you learned the material you are teaching, or have you memorized it? In order for you to truly teach it, build off it, improve on it and improvise to address questions, challenges and obstacles you need to learn it so you understand it. (Sadly some trainers don’t even memorize it, they just read it off the PowerPoint.)
There are a few things you can get away with memorizing. Most of the material relevant to the profession needs to be learned and understood to be retained and applied in a professional manner in the field.
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