For many years, the phrase “be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage” has summarized the goal of active learning. Michael Allen in his book Designing Successful E-Learning points to literature by David Rock as a key resource for his assertions about the importance of change management in the success of instruction, so I’ve been reading some of Rock’s writings.

Rock’s career was built in the professional coaching field. I’ve never really been introduced to coaching as a formal discipline, so this has been a fascinating little journey so far.

It’s interesting for me, for instance, how Rock makes the case that coaching has far more impact when coaches withhold from offering their own opinions, perspectives, and expertise, even when they have an insight or analogy that could be useful, and instead focus on asking questions that help coachees reach their own conclusions.

Guide on the side, indeed.


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