The Seven Laws of Teaching for Consultants and Trainers

For over one hundred years, students in the field of education have studied John Milton Gregory's Seven Laws of Teaching. Published in 1884, this tome is one of the most enduring descriptions on the art of teaching.

Consultant trainers certainly meet the standards set for teachers in our profession. Gregory's Laws seem to apply equally well to trainers and presenters in today's society as they did to teachers a century ago. Let's consider these laws and apply them to the world of training and consulting.

Law 1:The Law of the Teacher: Know thoroughly, clearly, and familiarly the lesson you wish to teach. It is certainly true that a presenter must know his material backwards and forwards. It is an old wives tale that those who can, do; those who can't do, train. Knowledge gives power to a trainer to be enthusiastic and prepared.

Law 2:The Law of the Learner: Gain and keep the attention and interest of the pupils on the lesson. Do not try to teach without attention. Good trainers know that a rapport with the audience is essential to success. Keeping the interest of the trainees requires interactivity, varied presentation techniques and making the information relevant to their needs.

Law 3:The Law of the Language: Use words understood in the same way by the pupils and yourself. Using common language is very important. Good presenters should avoid jargon and acronyms that may not be familiar to participants. Using visuals and images to illustrate points can enhance commonality. And always keep it simple!

Law 4:The Law of the Lesson: Begin with what is already well known to the pupil about the subject, and proceed to the new material by single, easy, and natural steps. Experienced trainers understand the importance of linking new information to what the audience already knows. Help audiences see ways in which the new material you provide them will apply to their real life experiences and challenges.

Law 5: The Law of the Teaching Process: Teaching is arousing and using the pupil's mind to grasp the desired thought or to master the desired art; therefore, stimulate the pupil's own mind to action. Keep his thought as much as possible ahead of your expression, placing him in the attitude of a discoverer and anticipator. One beneficial training technique is to focus on self-learning and discovery. Bringing the topics home to a learner's life will make the learning truly meaningful.

Law 6:The Law of the Learning Process: Require the pupil to reproduce in thought the lesson he is learning--thinking it out in its various phases and applications until he can express it in his own language. The real learning comes from doing, not just hearing. Use role-playing, interactivity and practical exercises to stimulate future action with the material presented. People who can do in the training setting will more likely be comfortable doing that same thing in their real lives.

Law 7:The Law of Review and Application: Review, review, review, reproducing the old, deepening its impression with new thought, linking it with added meanings, finding new applications, correcting any false views, and completing the true. Experienced trainers see the value in reviewing at the conclusion of their presentation. When there is a point to emphasize, remember the old adage--the third time is the charm. Repetition is the father of retention.

By applying these seven laws in our training and consulting, our learners will learn better and will come to apply what they have learned. And we will be successful as trainers and consultants in effecting change in organizations and in lives.