Getting Your Learning Programs Right

Getting Your Learning Programs Right

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“A universal human need is to improve and progress in life. Nobody
wants to think their life will be worse tomorrow than it is today. Within that
concept is our hunger to learn.”
(Shovlin, 2005. p.6)
Like most adolescents, I had no idea what I wanted
to do when I left school. But I did have an insatiable appetite for learning
and working.
My father was a hard-working, self-employed
builder and there was nothing I loved more than helping him out with everything
from his paperwork, PA duties, mixing the perfect concrete, wall-papering old
ladies’ houses to out-right demolition jobs (I liked those ones a bit too
I wanted to know how everything worked, yet I
hated school.
How could a young person, so naturally hungry
for learning, be so opposed to it formally?
Then one day in 1994, this question was answered
for me in a way that concreted the direction my life would take forever…
I sat in Mr. Burkett’s history class. We were
learning about King Henry the Eighth and his wives.
With genuine interest, I put up my hand and
asked him what the point was in learning about this. Henry was dead, after all,
and I didn’t understand how it was going to help me get a job.
Mr. Burkett didn’t like my question. Not one
bit. I was quickly called a ‘rude and preposterous little child’, he asked me
how I could be so stupid, and was ordered to leave his classroom until I ‘got a
brain’. I was humiliated, devastated, angry and frustrated. I had genuinely
wanted to understand the value of his lesson.
Until this point I had been doing well at school
despite my repulsion towards it. But this sudden declaration from a
‘respectable’ person of authority – that I was ‘stupid’ and ‘had no brain’– hit
me like a train in the face. This stimulus turned into a fixed, concrete belief
that I was incapable of learning. My reaction was to withdraw, to hide from my
inevitable failure, to give up.
I also asked myself ‘Why did he respond like that? He’s my
teacher.  It’s my job to learn and his
job to teach.  If I was a teacher, how
would I have answered that?.’
I became obsessed with what a ‘good’ teacher
actually looked like, what they did and how they taught.
I became equally obsessed by understanding how
we learn, what engages and disengages us and what makes the greatest
transformational learning interventions.
I soon began a career in the adult education
space, with my first post being a Trainer in a male prison in the UK. By the
age of 21, I had worked my way up to a Training Manager in the welfare-to-work
sector, was well into my degree in education, and was already running my own
training organisation on the side that was teaching facilitators of adult
learning how to deliver effective and engaging training.
My theoretical and practical experiences
combined and my roles fuelled and informed one another.  There began my journey of a life of
dedication to contribute to the field of education for the benefit of learner
and educator alike.
In my 10+ years of now working in the education
sector, I have come to learn that it’s not what
is being delivered, it’s the how
You CAN make math enchanting, you CAN make
compliance training captivating, you CAN engage the disengaged, you CAN make
English Literature magical, you CAN make any learning rewarding and
Learning is NOT boring; bad delivery is boring
at best and detrimental to the continuation of a lifelong learning pathway at

By delivery, I don’t just mean the charisma of the
Trainer, although important.  I’m
referring to the considerations made to the learning experience during the
design of the intervention and, in particular, to the considerations of
aligning the training to the principles of adult learning.
Whatever role we play in designing, planning, preparing or delivering training and education, we MUST ensure that the fundamental principles of adult learning have been considered and embedded into every aspect of the training.
To find out more, you can download my eBook “Understanding The Adult Learner: The Fundamental Principles Behind Effective Adult Learning Programs” here:
Or, if you want to really turn up your training to a whole other level, you can join my online ‘Certificate of Edupreneurship’ Program.  Find out more here:
Sarah Cordiner
Twitter: @CordinerSarah
Personal Web:

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