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Review: Impro Learning

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Title: Impro Learning
Author: Paul Z Jackson
Publisher: Gower
ISBN: 0 566 0928 3
Price: £45.00
Reviewer: Claudine McClean
Structured Training Limited

Impro Learning takes an unusual approach to creating learning events. Paul Jackson draws on his experience as a journalist, radio producer and actor to pull together a training programme from getting through the door through design and development to delivery.

With plenty of ideas for ice breakers and exercises this book looks sure to appeal to people new into training, looking for some quick wins to boost their confidence, credibility and stock of material. However, this is perhaps not the ideal readership for this work.

Viewing training as a performance art is nothing new, in fact, many trainers see themselves as performers first and educators or facilitators second. This can ensure excellent ‘happy sheet’ scores, but isn’t a reliable route to delivering real behavioural change that makes a difference to the individual or the organisation.

Impro Learning is an ideal book for a more experienced trainer who knows the rules and understands the mechanics and theories around how people learn, and has some understanding of the challenges faced in delivering learning events.

Actors, musicians and artists who excel at improvisation tend to do so because they fully understand their craft and are conscious of the rules that they are choosing to break. They achieve results in what appears to be an effortless way because they have put in the hard graft beforehand. The same is true of trainers.

Jackson presents his ideas in a practical, results focused manner, following a chronological approach to training development. This works well, and doesn’t restrict the reader from jumping in at the point where they need a little inspiration.

Impro Learning is particularly strong on developing trainer confidence, which even the most experienced consultant needs from time to time. It’s a perfect ‘drop in’ resource for any trainer looking to re-invigorate their workshops and remind themselves of why they enjoy training.

I suspect I’ll be dipping in and out of this book in the years to come, making it an excellent investment.

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Annie Hayes

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