I ran a poll in the Training Designer's Club Facebook group last week to find out what people call the small white round portion of bread that often accompanies burgers or soup. There were a lot of responses with roll and bap being the most common (clearly the correct term is a cob by the way!). Obviously there are regional variations, and Google informs me that there are over 20 terms in common use. But the fact is it doesn't matter what we call it. WE know what it is and what it’s for. The Baker who bakes it certainly doesn't care what name we give it as long as we buy it.
The names we give to things often only matter in very specific circles. Apparently, the things that you and I call bulbs, are NOT called bulbs by those in electrical wholesaling: Bulbs go in the ground; lamps go in light fittings. But the fact is if you went into B&Q and asked for a 40 Watt bulb they would know what you wanted, not pick you up on your terminology.
And that's why I get so frustrated with the endless playing with semantics that so many L&D professionals seem to get caught up in. The specific words and labels that we use for things do not matter outside of our industry. In a similar way, they get hung up on whether certain models are strictly correct or not. (I wrote a blog on that earlier this year, which you can read HERE). I wonder sometimes if the reason that so many people get fixated on it is because of the words that have been chosen to describe those models.
Take learning styles for example (yes, I AM going there) Recognised for years as a useful theory to design learning experiences, all of a sudden it's a dirty word and we're not allowed to talk about it. Maybe styles was the wrong word to use. Maybe the way the idea was presented encouraged people to reach inappropriate conclusions. Maybe people just take things too literally.
But as I attended my Zumba class on Friday I became more convinced than ever that the idea itself is not wrong. I love my Zumba classes, however there are a few songs that I don't like as much. When these songs are played I find I don't put as much energy into the routines. When my favourite songs are played I throw myself into it enthusiastically. In a similar way, when I've been engaged in learning myself, I come alive if we're given a task to do or a case study to examine. I find my mind wandering if the trainer talks for too long.
So I do believe that we have preferences and our preferences affect our feelings about something. Our feelings affect the way we behave towards that thing, and this of course affects the outcomes.
But we don't necessarily need to talk about learning preferences or personality styles or anything else with our delegates. We need to focus on helping them get from A to B, to help them learn something new. What sits behind that is just for us to know. Mixing up methods of delivery and activities just works, so we do it.
Just as a building firm sells the house in its completed state. The potential buyer does not need to know what went into the foundations, the type of cladding that's been used or the style of brick. Those things are important to the builder. What matters to the end user is the house.
I'm mixing metaphors a lot - we started with bread we've been through Zumba and then to building houses, but my point is as experienced learning professionals, we need to trust ourselves. We know what works we know what creates a great learning experience it doesn't matter if we use slightly different terms for what we do. It doesn't matter if we subscribe to slightly different ideologies. What matters is the results that our training achieves.
Just as you can enjoy your bowl of soup with a barm, a cob, or a roll.