Publish at November 16 2021 Updated November 16 2021

Being an active participant in your training in practice

Who is behind this slogan of the knowledge society?


Actor, but not scriptwriter

The slogan "Being an actor in one's training" sounds like a call for self-directed learning, or even emancipation from conventional forms of learning. The expression can be found as early as the 1980s, for example in Lefèvre's Guide pratique de l'enseignement assisté par ordinateur. (1984). Lo and behold, the slogan "becoming an actor" would be concomitant with the development of personal computing?

The 1990s would see a series of research articles that would clarify the slogan as the antithesis of the consumer posture (Bezille 1996), praising companionship or even differentiated pedagogy (Mersch-Van Turenhoudt,1993).

There are therefore several projections operating and not only those of public authorities who would like everyone to take charge of their own lives in order to play a full role in the knowledge society. "Being an actor of one's education" is above all a project claiming the piloting of one's choices and modalities of learning as a means of progressing in one's career or well up the social ladder.

Even if many institutions line up behind this slogan (by example in France), they intend to play the role of author and scheduler of what is good to learn and how to do it. They govern the programs and allocate the means according to their purposes and leave little initiative in the co-construction of the educational space to its users.

"Being an actor of one's training", what does it mean?

Far from a complete emancipation, this idea means that learners have a role to play in order to animate and appropriate the training designed for them.

For example they are asked to participate in the activities proposed to them and which require personal investment and availability, participate in the proposed conferences, read the suggested theoretical works, prepare the different training modules , analyze the case of their company (work on real cases), participate in role plays, exercises, sub-group work...

But they can also take responsibility for their learning by :

  • leading a value-added project within their company;
  • organizing for part of a course;
  • leading a reading circle;
  • forming a network of resources (exchange of addresses and provision of skills);
  • orienting and organizing their educational workshops;
  • organizing a visit to a company (benchmarking logic);
  • following up points between them the training organization and their company.

Contracting the role of actor

The author of the training is the one who stages the learning situation and sometimes relies on a tool to activate the role of learner: the educational contract.

This contract stipulates that, in order to be profitable, training involves personal attitudes that can be contractualized (formally or informally at the start of a training course) in a "pedagogical contract" proposing, for example, to adopt 

  1. A constructive attitude: nowhere is anything completely bad or truly perfect.  We must learn to discover the good and build with it.
  2. An attitude of openness: step out of one's narrow world to discover beyond it all the hidden riches of which we more or less consciously deprive ourselves.
  3. An attitude of questioning and personal questioning. Personal growth comes through a re-evaluation of oneself in situation.  Complacency about oneself is the mother of immobility and regression.
  4. An attitude of active listening: listening is not hearing.  To listen is to be available, attentive, open.  Active listening implies availability "here and now" in session.
  5. An attitude of dialogue with oneself and with others: your" truth can emerge and flourish only in a fruitful dialogue maintained with oneself and with one's environment.
  6. An attitude of benevolence (empathy): no one feels the same, thinks the same, has the same experiences, successes or failures, and not more the same difficulties ... it is therefore wrong to make value judgments on others.
  7. A "contractual" attitude: each person is asked to identify progress objectives, which he or she will strive to achieve through the training, but also through all the exchange situations experienced.

In this perspective of the pedagogical contract, a large place is reserved for experimentation with different behaviors, attitudes, approaches. Indeed, it is only on the condition of having been an actor in one's own training that the full benefit can be derived from the proposed teachings.

"With" and not just "for"

While the intention to give the learner more freedom of movement is perceptible in the slogan, the institutionally organized dissymmetry& between a knowing trainer and an incomplete learner is such that training is too often perceived as an act of passing knowledge from one brain to another even though the initiative of movement is at the heart of motivation. The challenge remains to move from situations in which an engineering specialist arranges courses/courses/devices to situations in which he/she accompanies and encourages the construction by the learner himself/herself of his/her own dynamics, and sometimes even when he/she accompanies collective self-training.

The way of bringing about the "pedagogical contract" is essential. Indeed, can an attitude favourable to the act of learning be built simply by a quick round of discussions or by signing a ready-made contract? Nothing is less certain. Perhaps one of the challenges of any training is to co-construct knowledge as much as an attitude to which a dose of free will must be attached for it to take full root.


Lefèvre, J. M. (1984). Practical guide to computer-assisted instruction. Cedic/Nathan.

Bézille, H. (1996). Self-training, individualization: autonomy in question. Education, training: figure of the user, Cahiers de la maison de la Recherche.-Université Charles de Gaulle, Lille III, (5), 23-31.

Mersch-Van Turenhoudt, S. (1993). How to implement a differentiated pedagogy in a class of thirty students. Bulletin de la Société géographique de Liège, 28, 65-74.

Pédagoform - What is a training    

Denis Cristol. The training market in 2009. 4th FORUM REGIONAL FORMATION POITOU CHARENTE February 2009: Towards the construction of new training markets, Feb 2009, Poitiers, France. 

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