Unleashing Potential in Learners 4

I had the privilege of training learners in the unit standard ‘Facilitate Learning Using a Variety of Methodologies’.  This training was facilitated to learners who have been unemployed for more than twelve months, with more than 90% being matriculants.  My main concern at the onset was how I was going to simplify the facilitation process for people who are not practitioners, who do not have much experience in the field of training and development and who may not have the confidence of those who have been in the workplace for many years.  

On the first day I asked each learner to come to the front and introduce themselves and tell us what they were expecting out of the course.  About fifty percent of the room appeared to be composed and confident whilst the other fifty percent came across timid, scared and almost inaudible.  I knew I had my work cut out for me as I realised that there was much work to be done.

Fortunately I was facilitating for five days and at the end each learner would.  have the opportunity to present a short course/presentation.  My thoughts went straight to the fifty percent that were timid and I wondered how we were going to get through the week.  By the second day I had already started telling them they needed to think about what they were going to present.  In addition to that I reminded them of what they would be assessed on.  

I already had a very large group 28 in total and was wondering how I was going to ensure each of them had a twenty minute slot.  We managed to schedule each one and started the presentations in the afternoon of the third day of the training.  

As each presented I marvelled at the growth in such a short space of time.  Some of those who were extremely shy presented the most interesting topics.  But the star of them all was a young lady who on the first day when we were doing the introductions was so scared that she almost doubled over as she introduced herself.  Not only did she choose a difficult topic, ‘Cashflow Management’ .  she presented as if she was a professional and did not show any of the fear or shyness of the first day.  I felt proud knowing I had played a part in unleashing such potential.

The presentations varied from how to plant a tree, how to open a bank account, the importance and uses of Marijuana, registering a company to using light dimmers.

It got me thinking whether as skills development practitioners we really spend time to reflect on the impact we have on those we deliver training to?  Do we really understand the power we have to enable others to unleash their hidden talent?  Do we care enough to create a conducive environment in which our learners will be empowered enough to throw away their inhibitions and subsequently contribute in a meaningful way?

I know there are providers out there that truly care and want to make a difference but there are also those who are looking to make a fast buck and do not have the best interest of their learners at heart.

The lessons I learnt in that week were as follows:

As a facilitator I have the power to nurture hidden talent

As a subject 

It is important to know that I can also learn from those that I am teaching others

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4 thoughts on “Unleashing Potential in Learners

  • Hannes Nel

    Millie, your passion already tells me that your course was a huge success. Just keep on adding value for your learners, it will add up in the end.

  • Celeste Maxime Lackay

    What a joy to read your article Millie. Like you, I am aware that everything we do in the SD arena is in and of itself a reward if done in the correct spirit and with the right attitude.

    I want to add that I don’t believe that skills development is going to make you rich. If it does then good for you, but I hope that you aren’t doing it only for that reason.

    Charles Dey makes a very interesting point regarding prerequisite entry requirements – even though I believe that specifying Toastmasters is unfair. How many learners have been signed up for this unit standard when they can hardly communicate/read/understand at a level that allows them to fully apply the necessary skill level at this level? The learning assumed to be in place is way too broad and belies the complexity level. I have witnessed learners how learners who will be facilitating home-based carers or ECD assistants really battle their way through understanding the portfolio.

    Is there a similar unit standard at a lower NQF level that you can direct me too?

  • Bernard Botha


    Your comment made me hark back to the ‘good old days’, had been a Toastmaster for close on 20 years and still have my DTM badge, (to me it does not yet mean “dead” Toastmaster).

    When I moved to the Free State started looking for a local TM club but can’t find one. 

    Been out of circulation for the best part of 15 years so I don’t know any of the old hands but how about district 74 raising the issue?

    Bernard Botha

  • Charles Dey

    One of the most effective tools I have seen in the development of presentation skills is that of Toastmasters. Not only do young people land up delivering really awesome presentations, they also acquire valuable leadership skills because they need to take on different office bearer roles at every meeting.

    To my mind the Toastmasters International Competent Communicator qualification should by the learning assumed to be in place for the ‘Facilitate Learning Using a Variety of Methodologies’ unit standard.