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Dick Allwright, Lancaster, July, 1997.

Lancaster. July, 1997

For The Last Time: Am I Now, Have I Ever Been, And Could I Ever Be - a Developer?
1. AN INTRODUCTION, TO YET ANOTHER ATTEMPT AT SATISFACTORY, EVEN CONVINCING, DEFINITIONS The question posed by my title reflects the positively accusatory tone of the 1950s American McCarthyite original: Are you now, or have you ever been, a communist?. This may seem an extreme point of comparison to choose for a paper purporting to be about language teaching, but it does seem that people in our field daring to call themselves developers, as opposed to teachers, or trainers, are asking for trouble, because they are assumed to be claiming to be able to do something that everyone else around would think thoroughly misguided and misconceived - to be able to develop other people. This censorious attitude is derived from the position that development, as opposed especially to training, is something that you can only do for and to yourself. Nobody, the argument runs, can do it to you, can develop you, whereas training, virtually by definition, is something that is essentially done to other people. I believe this claim about the nature of development is fundamentally true, but only insofar as all learning can only be done, ultimately, by the learner. The argument cannot therefore serve usefully to distinguish development from any other sort of learning. To attempt to make that sort of distinction requires, unfortunately, yet another look at the much visited problem of the definition of terms in this area (for a helpful discussion see Woodward, 1991: 139-162). This is what, with some trepidation as a relative newcomer to this particular minefield, I now propose to do. Because I believe that learning itself is at the heart of the distinctions we need I will take as my starting points five descriptive propositions about the notion of learning. These will, I hope, provide the necessary conceptual background for three practical definitions of training, education and development that may serve perhaps to facilitate future discussions about the similarities and differences between them. I will conclude with one prescriptive proposition about training, education, and development programmes, using this proposition to return finally to the question in my title.

2. FIVE DESCRIPTIVE PROPOSITIONS ABOUT LEARNING 2.1 Learning can aim at the acquisition of technical competence, and/or of information, and/or of understanding. Here I am simply finding my own terms for the standard distinctions in the field, and could perhaps have used the more colloquial knowing how, knowing that, and knowing why. I suggest that we need at least these three types of knowing to enable us to make satisfactory and useful distinctions between training, education, and development. 2.2 Learning, of any sort, can only be done by the learner. I would like to take this claim for granted, as a commonplace in our field. Whatever we think about whether or not we can teach someone something, probably none of us would argue that we can sensibly learn it for them, at least not in the usual sense of the term. That is something that they have, necessarily, to do for themselves. 2.3 Learning, of any sort, can nevertheless be facilitated by learning management activities. Here I am proposing a crucial distinction between doing learning, which I have already claimed can only be done by learners themselves, and managing learning, which can also be done by others. By managing learning I mean to refer to all those things that can be done to make it more likely that learning itself will also get done. Strictly speaking, however, managing learning is neither necessary nor sufficient to learning itself. For example, sometimes we organise ourselves to ask a question whose answer is reasonably important to us (asking the way in the street, say) and seconds later we have no idea of what we were told, so managing learning is not necessarily sufficient to guarantee that learning will take place. And we can easily find

examples of highly effective learning that does not seem to have been managed in any obvious way, so management cannot be strictly necessary, either. For example, we get to know other peoples faces without usually ever making even so much as a mental note for ourselves about what they look like. And yet we also know that, if we wish to take the trouble, we can make it more likely that we will remember peoples faces by making mental notes about them, or even by studying their photographs, so learning management activities can sometimes be facilitative.

2.4 Learning management activities can be provided by others as well as by learners themselves. The distinction between doing learning and managing learning is crucial for my purposes here precisely because it entails that it is only in the management of learning that there is a potential role for other people. This calls to mind the claim reported in my introduction that development, by definition, is something no-one can do for you, something you can only do for yourself. But my own claim, in section 2.3 above, is precisely that all types of learning can in principle be facilitated by the learning management activities of others. I cannot therefore use this potential role of other people as a criterial feature for my own notion of development. 2.5 Learning management activities provided by others may be provided on their terms, or on terms set by the learners themselves, or on terms negotiated between them and the providers. If I go to a college and register for a course of instruction, say in motorcycle maintenance, or French for beginners, then it is most likely that the course will be provided strictly on the providers terms. I am not likely to have any say in when the class meets, let alone how much time it occupies per week, or how many fellow students I will have to learn to get along with. All these are general aspects of learning management that I would expect to leave to the institution to determine. I would probably also expect the instructor to have already decided precisely what the course was going to try to cover, and what method would be adopted to help me learn all the material covered. But whether I consider myself engaged in training, education, or development does not depend on the issue of on whose terms I attend the classes. To take a different example, if I decide to upgrade my word-processing skills, I may find it more convenient to buy a manual and sort things out for myself. Some people seem even to prefer learning such things by trial and error. But, even if I use a manual, I do not need to let it take over all my learning management decisions. I can still decide for myself which bits of the manual I consult, and can ignore it completely if I wish. But the simple fact that I choose to make use of the manual entirely on my own terms does not mean that my acquisition of enhanced technical competence in word-processing is really development, rather than training. The third possibility in my proposition is one of negotiation between learners and providers. Some elementary schools, for example, offer a setting in which very young learners get to choose the area of the room they will work in (number, language, or arts and crafts, typically),

and so they get to decide on the materials, and the fellow learners, they will work with, subject only to occasional negotiations with the teacher to ensure that in any one week, say, they will have spent a reasonable proportion of their time in each of the three areas. Discussions of the distinctions to be made between training, education, and development do not usually deal at length with the notion of who determines the terms on which such things happen, but seem to take it for granted that training, for example, is something imposed on people, and provided exclusively on the providers terms, and that this is therefore something that criterially distinguishes training from other phenomena. It seems clear to me, however, given the above examples, that the issue of on whose terms training, education, or development are available cannot be conceptually criterial. We do need this consideration but only when we are not thinking primarily of the underlying conceptual distinctions we need to make, but of the practical use we want to make of labels in the real-world of language teaching. 3. THREE PRACTICAL DEFINITIONS TO FACILITATE DISCUSSION OF TRAINING, EDUCATION, AND DEVELOPMENT If I were to restrict myself to purely conceptual and criterial terms, I would now be reduced to proposing (having already argued myself out of making criterial use of any other considerations) that training is best defined as aiming at technical competence, while education and development are best defined as aiming at information and understanding, respectively (assuming the meaning of those terms set out in 2.1above). But such purely conceptual definitions, I have already noted, are not of much use for the description and labelling of events in the necessary messiness of the real world of language teaching. My hope is that the following definitions will appeal to the reader because they are practical definitions, not conceptually watertight but practically useful. They therefore set out the typical attributes of the three phenomena, not what might be the conceptually criterial ones for the underlying concepts. 3.1 Typically, but not criterially, learning management activities intended primarily to facilitate the acquisition of technical competence are provided by others on their terms. This is what we typically call TRAINING. This definition recognises that what we call training is usually a matter of trainees being put in the hands of trainers, whose aim is to enable the trainees to acquire technical competence, and who make all of the important decisions about the training process itself. The definition does not rule out the possible inclusion of other elements, such as the provision of information

about the technical competence to be acquired, or discussion of why it makes sense to be technically competent in this particular way. It just specifies the primary focus of a training programme. This definition aims to capture the essence of what people mean when they talk, for example, about a pre-service course for language teachers being a training course. 3.2 Typically, but not criterially, learning management activities intended primarily to facilitate the acquisition of information are also provided on the providers terms, but with greater scope for self-management on the part of the learner(s). This is what we typically call EDUCATION. This definition recognises the information focus of education, as we commonly think of it, but specifically includes the possibility of the scope for self-management being somewhat greater than in a training context. For example, if I enrol in an evening course of lectures and

discussions on Shakespeares plays then there is at least some chance that I will be able to decide for myself which of the plays dealt with on the course I make the greatest effort to learn about. I will probably prepare myself more thoroughly for the sessions that deal with those particular plays, for example, and be more willing to take part in class discussions about them. In a similar way, a masters course in applied linguistics, as a form of higher education, offers scope for selective attention on a grand scale, and selective attention is in a sense just another way of talking about the management of learning. As for training, this definition does not rule out the acquisition of technical competence, and/or of understanding, as elements in an education programme, it only prioritises information. 3.3 Typically, but not criterially, learning management activities intended primarily to facilitate the acquisition of understanding are provided by, or on the (normally negotiable) terms of, the people who wish to enhance their understanding. This is what we typically call DEVELOPMENT. This definition again sets out the typical situation to which we are willing to apply a term, in this case development. We seem typically to have in mind people, or groups of people, who have decided that they want to develop(to enhance their understanding of language teaching, perhaps) and who set out to find ways of doing so, on their own terms, with or without help from experts. But this does not mean that their development cannot have an element of training in it, or of education, given that understanding is likely to benefit from the acquisition of the

relevant information, and in any case is unlikely to be of much practical value unless it is accompanied by the acquisition of the appropriate technical competences. 4. ONE PRESCRIPTIVE PROPOSITION ABOUT PROGRAMMES. The above discussions all lead me to the conclusion set out in subsection 4.1 below. This conclusion recognises that if we try to arrive at definitions by distinguishing between training, education, and development solely in terms of the types of learning involved, or in terms of the potential role of other people in their management, or in terms of the issue of on whose terms they are available, then our definitions are going to be too narrow to be practically useful. We need surely to think in terms of putting things together, not of keeping them strictly apart. 4.1 Training, education, and development programmes, to be practically worthwhile, must each provide for the facilitation of at least two of the three notions of technical competence, information, and understanding, one of which must be understanding. The practical definitions set out in section 3 all left room for the possibility of including elements from each other. I would now like to go further and propose that, in practice, they need to draw on each other. For example, a training course, in the real world, will not be complete, will not offer all it needs to offer, as a training course, unless it offers help with more than one way of knowing, unless, say, it provides for developing some level of understanding. But this provision for development can be provided on the providers terms, without endangering its status as developmental work. And people engaged in development will not probably get all they could out of it, in practical terms, unless they also acquire the necessary technical competence to do something useful with their enhanced understanding. But seeking the appropriate technical competence to make practical use of enhanced understanding does not need to be seen as threatening the essentially developmental nature of the overall enterprise. 5. SO, AM I NOW, HAVE I EVER BEEN, AND COULD I EVER BE - A DEVELOPER? To this charge I would now make the plea that was common among defendants in the antinuclear movement in Britain in the 1960s, whenever they were taken to court for, say, obstructing the highway by a sit-down protest in the road outside a base for nuclear bombers technically guilty but morally innocent. I would in fact like to think that I have been able, sometimes, to facilitate other peoples development as language teachers, just as countless other

people have facilitated mine as an applied linguist. I would not like to think that my, or their, capacity for self-development has thereby been inhibited in any way. Finally, I would like to think that by highlighting the distinction between conceptual definitions and practical ones, I may have helped to end fruitless debates about the properuse of the terms training, education and development. I would not wish, however, to be thought to be trying to inhibit discussion of the conceptual and professional issues involved in clarifying the phenomena themselves. There is still endless scope for productive debate on those. Dick Allwright REFERENCE Woodward, T. 1991 Models and Metaphors in Language Teacher Training. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.