Development training involves a range of active approaches to learning
that aim to develop people's ability to learn from experience.
On related pages Development Training: Index and Bibliography
Development Training and Learning for Growth
Definitions of development training tend to come from development trainers themselves. This makes it difficult to distinguish between a 'definition' and a 'sales pitch'. However, with optimism and whole person development being fundamental values of development training, even an objective definition would need to include these as being central values.

[References on this page can be found in the main bibliography of 'Powerful Learning Experiences'.]

Development trainers do also turn to other 'authorities' for a description of the learning process. Kolb (e.g. 1984) is widely quoted in development training literature. Kelly's Personal Construct Theory (1955) (together with Kolb's theory) provided the basis of Roger Putnam's 'A Rationale For Outward Bound' (1985). The theories of Kelly and Kolb are certainly relevant, but do not seem sufficient. Some development trainers have attempted to write more comprehensive definitions (and descriptions), some of which follow (starting with my own):
    "Development training is a basic and simple concept, but it is notoriously difficult to find basic and simple words which adequately define it. This is partly because the quality of the experience is critical ... and any defining of quality is usually a complex linguistic exercise ...
"Development training has evolved through active sharing (e.g. apprenticeship) rather than through the written word. It is fairly easy to communicate its general nature, and to illustrate by example, but it is difficult to pin it down. It is easier to describe than to define." (Greenaway, 1986)

Following these reservations about the task, I then made a few attempts to achieve it, including:

    "Development training embraces a range of active approaches to learning which aim to develop people's ability to learn from experience."

This view of development training has been emphasised in the development training 'values statement' (linked to the NVQ competency framework for development training):

    "the ultimate aim should be to enable the participant to become an independent learner."

It is also emphasised in the definition of the Chairman of the Development Training Advisory Group:

    "Development Training ... enhances individual effectiveness by evoking a sense of purpose, developing coping and learning skills and increasing self-understanding ... Development training accelerates learning and cultivates the habit of learning from life." (Everard, 1993)

Definitions of development training often make use of its two component words to describe it as two concepts in one. For example:

    Development Training combines "the concepts of development (change and growth) and training (learning specific skills)." (Everard, 1993)

Development means whole person development:

    "Development Training is a process of active learning from experience, leading to systematic and purposeful development of the whole person: body, mind and spirit. (Everard, 1993)
'Whole person development' is central to development training philosophy but it is usually expressed more modestly in programme aims. Commitment to self-development and customer satisfaction makes it difficult for providers of training to have purposes other than those of meeting customer needs and providing opportunities for self-development. Because of this difficulty (let alone the difficulty of evaluating whole person development) I have argued in a research report that:"Development training may be better represented as being development through the whole person, rather than as development of the whole person. The learning climate in development training enables development through the whole person." (Greenaway, 1986)

This view is different to the priority given to development of the whole person in the Development Training Advisory Group Code of Practice (1986). It seems that development training can be represented either as a holistic training methodology (through which a number of different purposes can be achieved), or as an almost "evangelical" movement committed to the concept of developing "whole persons". In my view, the former representation is a more accurate description of the processes involved.

However, youth development tends to be relatively closer to the "evangelical" approach, while management development is generally closer to the "utilitarian" approach - using whole person methods as a means to other ends. What the above definitions of development training do show is a strong measure of idealism and optimism, which are perhaps the most significant ingredients. Other ingredients that can be found in definitions or descriptions of development training are the words 'adventure', 'groupwork', 'reviewing', 'support', 'challenge', 'dynamic learning climate', 'quality of experience', 'developing potential'; and 'team development', 'organisational development', 'community development' as well as 'personal development'.

Source: Based on an extract from Roger Greenaway's PhD thesis: "Powerful Learning Experiences in Management Learning and Development" (1995) University of Lancaster. References on this page can be found in the main bibliography of 'Powerful Learning Experiences'.

For another attempt to define development training see:
Development Training and Learning for Growth

The main themes above are explored in a more practical way in the article
In Search of Respectable Adventure

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