Paul Kloosterman

Learning to learn about self-directed learning

Paul Kloosterman


Paul’s first ‘self-directed’ training experience did not quite work out as planned...

I have been involved in the SALTO Training of Trainers since its very beginning.

I’ve been a trainer on 18 out of the 19 ToT courses that have taken place so far. If you look at the reality of non-formal education and European youth training, this is quite an impressive record. It is a great privilege for a trainer, to have been able to deliver a training programme for so long and update it on a regular basis.When designing the 7th edition of the ToT programme, we were completely fascinated with the idea of self-directed learning; a relatively new and experimental concept in the training world back in those days. I remember spending days with other trainers mapping out the various training opportunities to our participants – quite literally, on a big wall in the training room. Having spent four days on this, we decided to pass the floor to participants and asked them to design their own training maps and plans on the back of this. It was a complete disaster. The group was overwhelmed and confused by the wealth of opportunities available, and half of the group gathered around a single participant who had a clear idea of what she wanted to do, and sort of copied things off her. This was a big learning experience for us, to learn about self-directed learning especially as trainers, but it enabled us to improve our approach by offering more support for participants by mentoring and  developing supportive tools..

Over the years, self-directed learning became an important part of the European Commission’s competence framework, going on to become the ‘Learning to Learn’ competence, and I think SALTO and ToT contributed to this.

The ToT journey illustrates the advantages of the SALTO network and its approach, as SALTO provides a sort of institutional memory for the training world, but without the undue baggage and bureaucracy of an institution. I remember Udo Teichmann (from SALTO Training and Cooperation) patiently listening to our ToT ideas and telling us that we were free to experiment whilst keeping him in the loop. It was this laboratory of ideas approach and SALTO’s ‘critical friend’ role that led us to develop a good quality programme over the years. SALTO also helped us to get better recognition of our work, through fighting our corner and representing trainer views. Trainers are often working in the field and so not always able to represent their views with key decision-makers, and so support from someone connected to the institutional circuit really helps a lot.

Connection to SALTO:

Paul is involved in the SALTO Training of Trainer (ToT) series. He was involved in the development of Youthpass, and is a member of the Youthpass Advisory Group

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