Gavin Greig (ggreig) wrote,
Gavin Greig
ggreig

Teaching or Training?

sharikkamur has raised an interesting question about the differences between teaching and training.

I think I agree with those who've said in the comments that what she is demonstrating is actually a more structured (personally I would go with better) teaching/training style, rather than necessarily doing one or the other.

To arrive at that conclusion, I had to think a bit about what I considered to be the difference between teaching and training (my definitions may not agree with any more widely-held definitions, of course). Taking on board what's already been said in sharikkamur's post and the comments, it seems to me that the real teaching/training division is similar to the division I've noted in styles of computing text books.

In particular, I've noticed those differences between the output of two respected publishers, O'Reilly and Addison-Wesley. If you're learning how to use a new technology, you can often do worse than to pick up the relevant O'Reilly book on the subject. That will help you to get up to speed and do a good job with technology "X", and you might learn a bit about how to be a better developer in the process.

In contrast, Addison-Wesley titles have a different emphasis. They tend to teach methodologies, which may be illustrated with a particular technology.

That difference in emphasis crystallises what, for me, is the difference between teaching and training. Training is short term and task-focused; you will learn to do a particular thing, and (hopefully) learn to do it well. Teaching takes a longer term view. Particularly in computing, training in a particular technology may not be particularly relevant in a few years time. Teaching will try to instil in you principles that will stand you in good stead for years to come.

In a University context, what is needed in any subject - not just technology - is an admixture of teaching and training. Students will feel short-changed - and future employers may not bite - if they don't receive enough training in the technology/theories of the day. However, a really valuable education will use training as the Trojan horse to teach students how to do things better, regardless of the more particular concerns.

One way of describing this might be to say that teaching imparts knowledge, while training imparts skills, as sharikkamur's previous reading suggests, but personally I think that's an unhelpful interpretation. Teaching and training should both impart knowledge and skills; the difference is in where they are focused.

I have both O'Reilly and Addison-Wesley books on my shelves, and at least initially I was much more aware of O'Reilly as a brand. But when I sat down one day to consider which of my books I valued most, I was surprised to discover that almost all came from Addison-Wesley, the publisher I hadn't particularly noticed, and they were the books that had tried to teach me how to be a more effective developer, rather than the books that covered a particular technology.

.
Tags: books, software development, thought
Subscribe

  • Electric Hurdy Gurdy

    Check out Guilhem Desq, lead hurdy gurdy player in Arcane Alchemists: Transmutation sounds like a Bond theme: This entry was…

  • Inside the Mark I Tank

    Here’s a really interesting video from the World of Tanks people. Yes, it’s a YouTube video, but you can drag your viewpoint around to see the…

  • Weekend - Peter Pan, Bon Scott and Sydney Padua

    It’s been a while since I wrote, you know, actual words here – nearly six months, which is my longest gap ever – so I thought I’d make a cursory…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.
  • 8 comments