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Tuesday Insight: Pass the Parcel!


A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about Happy Sheets and the extent to which they can be relied on as evidence that learners will retain the leaning, will be inspired by it and will act upon it back in the workplace. (Short answer - they can’t.) 

In my blog I flippantly suggested that we might be engaged by a game of Pass the Parcel, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll do something differently as a result. But, as Andrew Kitton of AFK Training pointed out, we might not, but we might! And he relayed two fantastic examples of how a simple game of Pass the Parcel had influenced his future behaviours. 

The first was when, in a twist of fate, Andrew won the prize in a game of Pass the Parcel at a school friend’s birthday party. It was a cheap plastic football - the kind that deviates in motion when kicked, so you think you're a skilful Brazilian. He’s been hooked on football ever since.

I called it a twist of fate because Andrew probably wasn’t supposed to win the football at all! It was almost always the birthday boy that won. On this particular occasion, Andrew had been sat next to the birthday boy and the parent probably mistimed the musical pause. 

Contrary to expectations however, when it was Andrew’s birthday, he didn't win. He remembers his Mum telling him that as he was the host, she made sure that he didn't win the prize. Instead, she’d timed the pause so that the boy who was playing fair won; the one who wasn’t going into slow motion when he received the parcel and who wasn’t snatching it from the previous player. 

Andrew also recalls that when young he would often get in a ‘strop’ if he lost. Experiences like Pass the Parcel gave him an early lesson in what we would now call ‘Emotional Intelligence’ – an awareness of self, and others. As Andrew’s father told him, control your emotions and be a ‘good loser’ and people are more likely to play with you again.


Andrew’s anecdotes are a powerful reminder that we are continuously learning and that who we are today is, in fact, the result of all the learning we’ve extracted from all the experiences of our lives. 

The lesson about being a ‘good loser’ and having the opportunity to play again, for example, is one that applies to anyone working with others, and particularly those involved in negotiations - since we often have to negotiate with the same people many times in life. And it’s one I can’t help feeling some of the world’s political leaders might have missed.

Every experience in life gives us an opportunity to learn and it’s important, I think, to remember that our role as trainers is primarily to ‘facilitate’ rather than deliver learning. The best trainers don’t ‘tell’. Instead, just as Andrew’s parents did, they create experiences where learners learn for themselves and then help them extrapolate and make sense of that learning.

And that, in a nutshell, is the philosophy behind most of Trainers’ Library’s materials.

August 14 2018Rod Webb



Rod Webb





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