Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Training and Education

"Training teaches you how. Education teaches you why." - Jeffrey Gitomer

A gem from last weekend that I have been pondering, especially as a fairly large part of my job involves "training". We train for everything - train on documents, train on processes, train on training in some cases.

However, as I considered what we do and why we do it, I was suddenly confronted by the idea that training is a weak concept, especially for any person or company that seeks to be the best.

When I train on something, I am (as Gitomer notes) merely training on how to do something (presumably correctly). It denotes no sense of understanding why I am doing it, the implications for doing it, the history of where it comes from, or often the impact of doing it. It merely is the execution of a task to success. In contrast, education (in its best form) gives many of these things: an understanding of why I am doing it, the implications of doing it, the history of where it comes from (so often there is a history) and the impact of doing it.

The reality is, so often companies and individuals settle for training - the learning equivalent of "the quick buck". "Tell me", they say, "how to do this. We don't need to clutter the minds of everyone with the whys or wherefores (besides, they get easily bored). Just what they need to do and we'll be off." The problem is, this breeds a mediocre mindset, whether individual or corporate.

Because the reality is most individuals at best only want to be trained instead of educated (better yet, entertained rather than trained). Education calls upon us to understand, to contemplate, to engage in original thought to make those concepts our own. But as it often has no immediate payoff but often costs in terms of time or money, most individuals (and the companies that manage them as resources) simply try to do as little as possible.

Companies I cannot change, except to make note of those that value training above education and act accordingly. For my own role at such companies, I can engage in the practice of education instead of training in everything I do.

But most importantly for myself, I can accept the fact that I should always pursue education. Training has its place to be sure, but it is is a poor substitute for education. Education can subsume training, but training seldom subsumes education.

Am I seeking in my own life to be trained - or educated?

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