Rekindling the Spirit of Learning: Make a Joyful Noise

By Bell, Chip R. | T&D, February 2004 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Rekindling the Spirit of Learning: Make a Joyful Noise

Bell, Chip R., T&D

Amen. That word was poignantly spoken from a participant near the back of the training room. It was followed by an awkward silence, sideways glances from other participants, and a muffled apology from the overly enthusiastic one.

That one-word pronouncement preached an entire sermon. But it wasn't a religious or other outburst from a problem participant; it was an expression of passion. Someone in the middle of learning got excited with a new discovery--and proclaimed it to everyone.

Such qualities as spirit, charisma, passion, and evangelism have taken a backseat to metric-driven, result-oriented, criterion-referenced learning. We want our participants to be instructed, not necessarily inspired; educated, but maybe not captivated. We like enthusiasm as long as it stays in the proper bounds of rational classroom decorum. And if a trainer moves participants to tears, makes them giggle or shout "Amen!" that trainer is labeled an edutainer rather than a serious, card-carrying change agent.

The late Malcolm Knowles, father of adult learning, was fond of saying that the greatest gift a trainer could give his or her students was love of learning. "Your primary goal is not to help people learn," he'd say to colleagues, "your goal is to help people fall in love with learning."

That was Knowles's way of telling trainers to get their participants to shout out when a new insight or discovery excites them. Learning is temporary; learning to learn is permanent. And the first principle of learning to learn is a passion for finding out what's not known.

When I was a training director for a large bank, I had all of the instructors in the department attend worship services at an African American gospel church. I gave them a list of specific things to watch: style, timing, body language, rapport, use of metaphor, drama, personalization--all tools for fostering inspiration, if not religious conversion. The goal was to learn techniques that the minister used to communicate, in a manner that both taught and inspired. I didn't want to turn trainers into preachers or diminish their facilitation skills. I wanted them to learn the role that spirit and cause have in enhancing the learning experience.

They left the church with new ideas for making their classes a magical experience, not just a stoic passage of information from brain to brain. As one trainer said, "I never realized my job was to manage the spirit of learning."

Our next field trip was to a theater to witness a dramatic play that took the audience's emotions on an extreme roller coaster ride. Several of my trainers volunteered to read stories to children in a hospital. One learned magic tricks to incorporate into her classroom.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Rekindling the Spirit of Learning: Make a Joyful Noise


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?