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ASK, NOT TELL

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  • David

‘Did I deliver?’ vs ‘Did they learn?’

Updated: Mar 8

It is now the 1st break time on Day 1. Learners rush out to enjoy their break and you now some quiet time. You probably want to reflect a bit on the progress. The natural question to ask yourself is whether I have delivered as planned. Specifically, you may check whether you have covered the content in the facilitator guide e.g. activities, debrief or just lectures.


But strictly speaking this is WRONG!


The question is a wrong question to ask. We should ask ‘What did they learn?’ rather than ‘What did I deliver?’. The facilitator guide is just the prepared material with which hopefully the learners can have the intended learning. Most of the time running the class according to a well-written facilitator guide does generate the desired learning. But it is not always the case. Lots of other factors (e.g. learners, environment) can affect the learning.


Let me give an example. You run a session about the Win-Win mindset. You run the typical ‘cooperate or cheat’ activity exactly according to the guide. And then you ask the debrief questions exactly as mentioned on the guide. However, since most learners have done the activity before (quite possibly). You see blank face as you ask your questions. You do not get the desired learning, though you have delivered as planned.


We should thus focus on the result but not the tool. The key word should be ‘learn’ rather than ‘deliver’. And of course the implication is that we should improvise if the prepared tool does not work.   In the Win-Win mindset case, whilst you realise that they have not ‘learnt’ by you following the guide, you improvise.  You may direct the learners to their own similar real life experience, instead of using the activity.   You may then ask the debrief questions basing on this.


I learn the above from a Master Trainer. He wrote in his feedback to my demo session in a TTT class, ‘You should ask yourself “Where are we?” at the end. Or you should ask the question to learners as well, and let’s review the learning together.’  Where are we?’ another powerful question to ask!!

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