A Philosophical Overview


Robert Kirwan

As a specialist in education, training, and staff development, I find myself changing roles from time to time in order to focus on the task at hand.

For example, it is important to know the difference between education and training; between training and coaching; and between coaching and mentoring. Many people think those terms and roles are interchangeable, but they are not, especially when it comes to working with adult learners, with individuals who have not found success in traditional educational institutions, or with employees who depend on you to help them develop the skills necessary to be successful in their chosen career.

What is education?

Education involves the learning of knowledge. It is up to instructors to find the most effective way of helping their students acquire the knowledge they need in order to be successful in achieving their goals. If you are working with an adult learner pr employee who wishes to work in an electrical career, then he needs to know something about electricity before he begins. There is basic knowledge that is needed.

What is training?

Training is the teaching of skills to generate consistent competency in your student or employee. So once you have the basic knowledge, you then have your student perform the necessary skills over and over again until he gains the confidence and competence needed to perform the job. Furthermore, you don't just do the skill once and move on. You perform the skill over and over again until you can say you are consistently competent in that area.

What is coaching?

Coaching is all about enhancing performance. Therefore, in order for training to be successful, you need a competent coach working with the students or with the employees. You need a person who can help the student/employee while he is learning the skills and who can do this in a way that will assist the student in acquiring the skills that will make him competent enough to do the work on his own. No matter how skilled you become in your job, you can always use a coach who can observe what you are doing and give you practical advice on how to enhance your performance.

What is mentoring?

 Mentoring is about helping an individual identify his/her purpose and passion. Mentoring is a thread that should weave throughout education, training and coaching. It is about helping a person achieve their life goals and aspirations. It is also about helping a person match his/her strengths and talents with realistic goals and passions so that it is possible to successfully achieve those goals. It is about making the right choices in life and being motivated to make a difference in this world. It is about realizing your potential and becoming the best you can be in this life. Mentoring can make a huge difference in the bottom line for any company. It is a matter of finding the right person for the job and then helping each person become the best he/she can be to achieve their maximum potential and maximum level of job satisfaction.

What is my role as a Learning Coach?

As a Learning Coach, my role is to combine all of the above roles and responsibilities in coming up with the right plan for the people with whom I am working. Whether they be young students or older adults; educational institutions or corporations; my job is to determine the education needed, develop the most appropriate training program, and then find the right coaching team to help with the training. But perhaps my most important role is to help individuals discover their natural talents and abilities and their true passion for life in order to make the right choices in the first place when it comes to selecting a career they wish to pursue. I can give you the education you need. I can develop a training program for you. I can find good coaches. But if your heart is not in what you are doing, all of this will mean nothing and you will never achieve success.



The Learning Clinic is The Private Practice of
Robert Kirwan, B.A. (Math), M.A. (Education), OCT
4456 Noel Crescent, Val Therese, ON P3P 1S8
Phone: (705) 969-7215    Email:    rkirwan@thelearningclinic.ca

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Infocom Canada Business Consultants Inc.