Trainer, Teacher, Educationist – Train the Trainer?


Many Trainers seek to separate themselves from the  terms ‘teacher’ and ‘educationist’ primarily, I am told by trainers, because a trainer is not responsible for development of the whole human being.

How astounding!

It is true that Vocational Education and Training System Trainers are somewhat removed from the mainstream of education and learning. For example, the Australian Education Union does not recognise graduates of the Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training as suitable for membership. In addition, there have been various attempts to form professional bodies for Trainers (as distinct from teachers/educationists) with limited success.

Social process of learning

Much of learning is a social process between human beings therefore, like it or not, Trainers do and will contribute to development of the whole human being by the human interactions involved in the process – i.e, education.

In this respect, the VET System has let both Trainers and Trainees down in the form of education they are receiving.

“Training” and “Education”

There tends to be a continuing debate to differentiate between the concepts “training” and “education”, even evident in the title of the Vocational EDUCATION and TRAINING System.

Consciously or unconsciously these two words tend to be used interchangeably. People use the word ‘training’ when they actually mean ‘education’ and the word ‘education’ when they actually refer to the word ‘training.

According to Moore (1986) the term ‘training’ is usually used in those situations where some skill or competency is involved, often, though not always, where the skill is fairly limited in scope. Training can take place in circumstances where no one would claim that education was going on. To train a soldier in the use of a bayonet or a gas mask is hardly to educate him.

Schofield (1972) notes that training always implies the acquisition of a ‘skill’ and drill is an essential part of training whereas education must provide those committed to it with knowledge, understanding and cognitive perspective. Training does not necessarily involve understanding the principles involved.

Khan (1994) states that the concept of training carries with it the derogatory connotation of a process of helping others to acquire skills or knowledge by rote, without any reference to greater framework of knowledge or comprehension. Training that is done in the cognitive domain is generally at the knowledge level and the lower part of the comprehension level.

Training is narrowly focused and closed system while education encourages general approaches to problem solving and inculcates ways of thinking and doing that are productive, effective, and rewarding. Rao (2004) views education as a process emphasising the development of knowledge and skills required in all walks of life whereas training emphasises knowledge, skills and behaviour patterns required to perform a particular job.

One can conclude from the above-mentioned descriptions that ‘training’ is a narrow concept as compared to ‘education’. Training is focused on the development of some specific skill. It tends to include repetition and drilling. There is more probability of indoctrination in training. It does not mean that training is a useless activity and should not be provided to highly intellectual minds. It is worth providing but it limits the cognitive abilities and problem solving thinking. It should be combined with broader perspective, i.e. education.

Training Trainers

To train trainers means that the higher order thinking and cognitive perspective are put aside. Mechanically trained trainers are likely to apply the outdated methods and drills without any creativity and innovation because of understanding the underlying theories of learning and teaching practices.

To ‘educate’ trainers conceptually means also developing intellectual and cognitive abilities of trainers. They are given a broader view of the teaching world, grooming all aspects of their personality, preparing them to face uncertain and unexpected situations in and outside the ‘training room’.

New horizons of knowledge are opened for them. They will not be limited only to the knowledge of methodologies of training. The linkage of up-to-date and relevant educational theory and practice is essential.

‘Train the Trainer’ is concerned with practice and skill of methodologies, not with the broader knowledge of background theories, whereas ‘teacher education’ is associated with both theory and practice.

Scoping Training and Education

Training is limited and specific in scope. It focuses on development of some specific skill and by practicing the skill; the trainee tries to become expert in that skill. It limits independent thinking and the trainee is bound to repeat the same activities.They must do what they have been ‘asked to do’, to be competent in the workplace task.

Education, on the other hand, has a wider and broader perspective. It encompasses all the activities to be capable for work and essential for human development. It does not limit the trainer or trainee to imitation and practice. (Schofield: 1972, Moore: 1986, Dove: 1986, Khan: 1994, Rao: 2004).

A deeper conception of ‘training’

‘Training’ is worthwhile for specific individuals and employers/industries. The trainees receive particular training relevant at a particular time and in a particular context. Education takes into account what is worthwhile for whole of society not just selected individuals and employers/industries.

Educating trainers and trainees should be aiming at achieving command of relevant methodologies/techniques but also on theoretical perspectives of all practices. Linkage of theory with practice is essential to fulfill the broader aims.

Vocational Education and Training Policy

“Training” and “education” are so closely related to each other that sometimes it is very confusing to differentiate between the two. With the increasing interchangeable use of both the words in the community, it might be better to remove the problem of differentiation between the two rather than continually draw out clear-cut distinctions.

Words or concepts are nothing in themselves. They are important only because of the meanings we attach with them and all meanings are useless until they are given pragmatic direction in vocational education and training system policies.

AQF level 4 criteria

Summary Graduates at this level will have theoretical and practical knowledge and skills for specialised and/or skilled work and/or further learning
Knowledge Graduates at this level will have broad factual, technical and some theoretical knowledge of a specific area or a broad field of work and learning
Skills Graduates at this level will have a broad range of cognitive, technical and communication skills to select and apply a range of methods, tools, materials and information to:

  • complete routine and non-routine activities
  • provide and transmit solutions to a variety of predictable and sometimes unpredictable problems
Application of knowledge and skills Graduates at this level will apply knowledge and skills to demonstrate autonomy, judgement and limited responsibility in known or changing contexts and within established parameters


Broad reference:

PHILOSOPHIZING THE CONCEPTS “TEACHER TRAINING” AND “TEACHER EDUCATION”, Farooq Asif, International Journal of Multidisciplinary Academic Research, 2013


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