Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps – Part II

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps – Part II

One key lesson that I learned during my career in the Marine Corps is that there is always a need and opportunity for creativity. In military operations, every member of the unit is an intricate part of the effort to accomplish the mission or objective. Innovation, thinking outside the box, and continually trying new strategies often results in the best result when trying to accomplish something.  Similarly, in a training environment facilitators and learners must partner and work together to accomplish the best possible results and to maximize learning outcome(s).

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps - Part IILearning after the Corps

After I left active duty and moved into a parallel training career in the Marine Corps Reserves and as a civilian training professional, I began to explore the latest research on learning and performance as part of my first Master’s degree program. As part of my studies, I became aware of the research and tenets of an accelerated training system known as suggestopedia that had been developed by Bulgarian psychiatrist and educator, Dr. Georgi Lozanov.

In an accelerated learning environment, elements such as color, music, group activity, and novelty are incorporated to help aid learning and stimulate the senses. This relates directly to the brain-based learning research that has been going on for several decades.

Coming from a rigid, instructor-led training classroom environment that is highly dependent on the knowledge and skills of the trainer, I was excited to see how the “other half” trained and educated adults once I left the Marine Corps. I embarked on immersion of the theories and approaches developed by numerous brain-based learning researchers and trainers to create and modify my own style of instruction that has been modified and enhanced since that time.

Training Lessons from the United States Marine Corps Part II by The Creative Trainer – Robert W. Lucas

My observations of training and development professionals who added environmental elements, such as, interactivity, small group activities, and a variety of creative learning strategies offered a glimpse into where my approach to training and educating adults would go in the future. It also provided a basis for many of my books on the topic of creative training ideas and strategies.

Obviously, the Marines have always done a great job of incorporating practical applications and demonstrations to build skills in their personnel. Still, having research on how learning takes place and new ideas on engaging learners in multiple environments was exhilarating and provided limitless new opportunities with which I could experiment. I soon added new elements to my learning sessions that could potentially help increase learner retention and application of what was experienced.

The decade of the brain

Following the 1980s, the next decade — often referred to the “Decade of the Brain”– was ushered in. During that period, there was somewhat of a renaissance of knowledge about how the brain can best process, store memories, and access information. Through the use of medical technology like PET, MRI, and CT scans researchers and neuroscientists were able to explore living brains as never before. As they introduced various sensory stimuli and observe the reactions within the brain, they were able to pinpoint reactions in various regions of the brain.

Applying brain-based research to the classroom

Educators have been able to extrapolate key information related to learning from the data and have found applications for it in various educational environments for students. Adult educators and learning and performance professionals also began to use this new knowledge to design, develop, and deliver learning in ways that they had never done before. Brain-based learning school systems and environments sprang up everywhere around the world while learning and development professionals have also carried this new approach to their adult learners.

For creative and innovative ways to transfer knowledge and skills and engage your learners, get copies of some of Bob’s books: The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Strategies for Engaging and Effective Learning;  Creative Learning: Activities and Games That Really Engage People; Energize Your Training: Creative Techniques to Engage Learners; and Training Workshop Essentials: Designing, Developing and Delivering Learning Events That Get Results.