You have to feel the learning

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Written by Jo Cook on 30 October 2015

Earlier this year my boyfriend and I moved into our first house together. It's rented and with a garden that's been ignored for years and years.

I have a reputation for killing house plants, so I never expected to turn into a keen but very novice gardener.

One of the ways I've been getting into this (in other words, that learning thing), is by watching Gardeners World on the BBC. I've fallen in love with presenter Monty Don and his gentle explanations and I like to think he'd be proud with our first steps in our garden.


On an episode this autumn, Monty explained about gathering and keeping seeds, which I've just started experimenting with and he said to use envelopes, so that seeds don't go mouldy. Good advice to new gardeners such as myself, especially as I've already collected some seeds from three different types of poppy that randomly appeared in the garden (through reading, exposure to general gardening stuff and logic, I worked out I could grow from the seeds for next year and not have to move the temperamental poppy plants maybe obvious to real gardeners, but it wasn't to me at the time!)

The trouble is, I stored my seeds in plastic containers. I used the logic that I keep my food fresh in Tupperware, so why not my seeds!? However, knowing what Monty had recommended, I knew I had to sort that out. Which, of course, I did immediately to avoid disaster.

Or not. I kind of forgot. And maybe they're was a tiny bit of me that thought it wasn't a big priority and would be fine for a bit.

Well, a week or so later, I pop into the shed to plant some seeds and bulbs for next year as I'm now learning about autumn planting schedules. I open up my first poppy seed plastic tub and get a huge shock when everything is mouldy!

Explanation versus experience

Why such a shock — Monty had told me this would happen? I had the KNOWLEDGE. I just hadn't done anything with this knowledge. And there lies the problem with people in organisations saying: "I need to my people to KNOW this, so let’s run a training course."

I love developing and delivering training courses and think it's a hugely beneficial thing to do. However, there's more than one way to get people to have knowledge: the 70:20:10 model approach and performance support are just two ways to get this out of the classroom.

But if we focus on inside the classroom for a moment, the lecture-oriented presentation of knowledge still isn't enough. I had my version of that with Monty explaining very nicely, how to store seeds properly. And I didn't do it. What I needed was EXPERIENCE!

My experience of seeing those horrid mouldy seed pods I'd spent so much time and effort on was quite a shock (they were much worse than the picture above). This just strengthens the argument for me that we need to create activities in our training delivery relative to the actions people need to take in real life.

Best go sort out my seeds now.


About the author:

Jo Cook is an independent L&D specialist focusing on blended programme design and live online virtual classrooms. She can be contacted through her blog at and via Twitter: @LightbulbJo



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