Teaching and training - getting a student's interest with a reference point
Before you start teaching or training, you will need to determine your student's reference point. That just means looking at the information from the student's point of view, what it means to them, and how it touches their lives. Their reference point is what they already know about the subject. That is, what they personally refer to to begin understanding. Without a reference point, the information is just a bunch of boring, useless stuff. Finding that reference point can be difficult, but you can do it by listening.
Before every software class I taught, I invited the students to talk a bit about themselves. I went around the room, and gave everyone a chance to talk for a couple of minutes. I wrote things on the board such as what their major was, general stuff, and I always included "why are they in this class?"
Listening to my students answer why they are in this class? gave me a lot of reference points. Of course many of them just said, "because I gotta" or "it's a requirement". But some said that they had heard that Photoshop could do some cool stuff, some said that they knew that the software was used by Graphic Designers, and wanted to know why.
Everyone who sets out to learn something has to start with their own reference point. Look at yourself. If you set out to learn something that is completely unrelated to your own experience, and for which you see no point, don't be surprised if it fails to grip you.
No, just because someone has a reference point doesn't mean that they will be fascinated with the information. But without a reference point, you don't have a chance.
Posted by Brad Hall