What contributes to the added value of a training course in a course? One would be tempted to answer directly: "the content, the objectives, the learning situations, the pedagogical support...". This article proposes to discover other aspects, which seem peripheral but which nevertheless often explain the effect of a training course on the medium or long term.
The training "I was there"
Some training courses, in the broadest sense of the term, are founding acts. Thus, in the history of ideas, seminars, conferences, workshops have become crowded spaces, filled like rock concerts. They are crowded, they are not seen. There is no interaction, you can't hear very well... But those who were there still talk about it decades later. Is it about training? You can bet it is. Those who were lucky enough to be there will discuss it around them, become more informed, deepen the thinking of the speakers and feel legitimate to debate the ideas shared...
Among the moments of training and teaching that are valuable, some are paradoxically incomprehensible. Let us listen to Antoine Compagnon, in his concluding lesson at the Collège de France about the seminar of a prominent psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan, still mythical decades later.
When I was a student at X, several of us would go to Jacques Lacan's seminar at the Faculty of Law, Place du Pantheon. At the time he was talking about topology. We tried to understand; we understood nothing. However, I was impressed by the risk he took, not by the prophetic tone, but by the extemporaneous turn of his speech. Sometimes he had nothing to say and fell silent after a few borborygms. [extemporaneous: not prepared in advance.]
Antoine Compagnon goes on to offer a personal interpretation: a teacher must disappoint, that is, he must give the sense that there is still a lot to be discovered, this time for oneself, by rubbing shoulders with the original resources and texts. It's all about the "We were trying to figure it out," which makes the moment of the training itself a starting point.
How to do it?
Trainings are sometimes best left as one-time, precious moments. The possibility of video replays, documents distributed and made available, and accessible slide shows can, on the contrary, contribute to trivializing the moment experienced. Those who go to training are not a few lucky ones, but those who were not smart enough to get the materials otherwise. In a previous article, we mentioned this return to the "live", which brings value to the lived moment.
More broadly, training time should also be an event and a collective experience. This remains true when training at a distance. The first moocs and then those built around exchanges, productions and community animation also created a strong moment. By talking about it around them, by extending the links and debates, by sharing on the networks, participants continue their learning.
"New start" trainings
Some trainings are initiations, they are a key moment in a life and have a very strong symbolic value. The person who registers or follows the course does not plan to continue as before. From the perspective of a theory of commitment, it is the first step towards a change, a reorientation or the mobilisation of a skill. At the extreme, it is not the training that is important, but the choice to enrol. Thus, training in management, entrepreneurship, facilitation or on key skills are like commitments made, to oneself and others to develop that skill or to engage in the activity.
Collectively, training courses on the service project, the pedagogical project or the use of collaborative tools give the start to a series of meetings and work within teams.
Nothing sums up this idea better and more simply than collections of books that position themselves as the start of a change in behaviour. Consider the "C'est décidé, je m'y mets" collection from Larousse publishing.
What to do?
To give value to training courses, centers can present a desirable horizon, and write their objectives and content as so many steps.
Domestika, which builds its business on an online training catalog, organizes its trailers as follows. One or two first minutes introduce the trainer in professional activity. Each time, he or she appears blooming, at ease in his or her art, and a few seconds are enough to awaken the desire to match the masters. The presentation of the objectives continues, structured, clear, and far from any pedagogical jargon. The content of the course follows. These are small steps that all make sense. And finally, the videos describe a final production, a "masterpiece" that the participants will be able to produce as a synthesis. In three or four minutes, the viewer is told; "This is it, I'm going for it".
To continue with the theory of commitment, end a session by asking everyone to say what they have retained and, above all, what he or she plans to do from the following Monday to implement the inputs of the course.
The sesame to a new professional life
The reference to a "new beginning" is all the more true when the training courses are mandatory to carry out a professional activity. Elevator operators, real estate agents, bankers or drivers who transport goods must validate training courses to continue their activity in France.
In this case, if training has value, it is first of all because it allows one to access a position or to keep it. Paradoxically, since it is an "external" motivation, it does not encourage learning or discovery. Validating the training is more important than being trained. Trainees' questions sometimes focus on the mode of evaluation, the success rates, the possibilities of catching up or appealing in case of failure in a test.
If these trainings are valuable, it is also because they are treasured. Losing the certificate when moving, even ten years later, can be a real tragedy.
What to do?
To make the trainings valuable, we can take care of the certificates and proof of achievement. Group photos during activity, issuing certificates of achievement or participation, badges can help to give value to the past moment.
Taking care of the aesthetic aspect of these documents is not useless. You'll find some templates on Canva's website that may inspire you, even if some of them look like death announcements...
The key to a position, or to stay in an activity
The added value of training is also measured by what it brings in terms of transformation. Let us remember the distinction "assimilation" and "accommodation" proposed by Jean Piaget. A training course can provide us with additional knowledge or know-how that adds to or updates what we have learned. We will speak of assimilation.
Another may, on the contrary, shake up our ways of thinking, our vision of our profession, or of our audiences. This will be called accommodation.
For a trainer, there is a difference between getting to grips with software that allows him to download his sign-in sheet, the list of trainees and enter his objectives, and a course that would change his vision of what it means to "learn" or of teacher-student relations.
Assimilation, which consists of developing knowledge and know-how on a model already established for the learner, scores less than accommodation, which forces the learner to shake up what he thought he had mastered. These trainings are sometimes more painful, but they leave a more lasting impression.
Some trainings change the way we think about our profession
What to do?
To bring value to trainings, this distinction can enlighten us. Reminding people of the values, the issues and giving meaning even when the training seems to be just a technical update is not useless. We can train departments on cloud storage by explaining the rules, but we can also put into perspective the security issues, the impact on work relations, hierarchy, the environment...
A little modesty to finish. The value of training is sometimes... outside of training. The encounters it fosters and the projects one builds there have an important role.
In Un monde à portée d e main, Maylis de Kerangal directs three students from an art school in Belgium. They share a flat and take intensive courses together in trompe l'oeil and painted sets for film or theatre. The curriculum is demanding and efficient, but it is also the emulation, the mutual help during and after the training, the reciprocal inspirations that allow these young adults to build themselves, and to develop their professionalism.
What to do?
Encouraging the exchange of emails, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn contact information allows one to continue the training through other avenues, anchor it in practice and solidify the commitments one has made there.
Interviewing alumni, having them testify, and staging their journey also proves very useful and inspiring, beyond the conviviality.
These few avenues bring us to the question of the amplitude of the training. It begins before the grouping, it extends beyond. What makes it valuable is not limited to what the trainers think they are bringing to it, nor to what the participants come to it for. It is a plane that is built with the passengers in flight and recipes like deterministic approaches have little hold on the added value they bring.
Illustrations : Frédéric Duriez
Antoine Compagnon - Leçon de clôture au Collège de France - janvier 2021
Canva: certificates of achievement - online templates
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