A Summary of Responses to “Sage on the Stage or Guide on the Side?”

A Summary of Responses to “Sage on the Stage or Guide on the Side?”

Sage on the Stage:

  • None

Guide on the Side:

  • Certainly Guide on the Side, the 21st century workforce demand student centre approach to enable the Student’s Vision. The guiding and tutoring is far batter then traditional “Data Transmission”.
  • Personally, I would like to be a guide and facilitate collaborative learning where the trainer does not merely spew knowledge/’gyaan’ but helps the learner to grasp and draw inferences by applying their thoughts and experiences.
  • A trainer, can at best, be a friend or mentor. But the trainer, like any other executive, also has to show measurable results, with limited control on the situation. Therefore, accepting the limitations, and being effective, at the same time, is a tight rope, a trainer shall always walk. S/he is not in the privileged position of being either a sage, or guru. I think this favors the “Guide on the Side” approach.
  • Clearly, if you need a stage you are not really a sage. Guides on the side are quickly recognized for who they really are by the best and brightest learners.
  • In the world of technical training, most learners need a hands-on element to make the learning stick, therefore, in my industry; the selection would definitely be “guide on the side.”
  • In my humble opinion, I believe you should be the “guide on the side”. Now, this is standard practice if you are doing distance learning but is more difficult for those who have been a face to face facilitator. However, if you really consider adult learning preferences it’s the guide they want not the sage on the stage.
  • The most important lesson that any teacher can share with students is learning how to think through situations. In fact, the teacher demonstrates this skill by acknowledging NOT having all the answers and showing how he or she works through these problems. Just sharing information may help someone in the short-term, but showing them how to work through the unknown has true long-term value.
  • Another way to look at this discussion is – are you creating a teacher centric or learner centric classroom. With the “stage” approach you are in teacher mode and you take a lot of the responsibility for what happens in the classroom. A learner centric approach assumes that the learner is showing up ready and willing to learn and the responsibility for the learning is theirs. You are there as a resource to support and guide them in getting what they need to be successful in their job. I am not so sure you can’t have a facilitated session and still be a sage. The challenge is let the learner do what they can first and use your “wisdom” to support their efforts and fill in the holes. This is really more than a shift for the trainer it is really a cultural shift in the organization – from a training mentality to a learning approach. Doing it to them rather than supporting them doing it.
  • Classroom engagement is essentially what we are discussing here right? My thoughts fall directly in line with Dr. Newman’s. As the modern generational learners appear in the classroom, the facilitators that are able to engage the audience will be a step ahead of the rest of us.
Situational Approach:
  • I believe that a great teacher is a blend of both a guide and sage. e.g.: Jesus Christ is always depicted as a shepherd (guide) as well as the Rabbi. In regard to “facilitating learning” a great teacher does really mollify the egos of learners; by storytelling, i.e. drama, wit and sometimes humor.
  • I agree that 9 times out of 10, the guide on the side is the better approach. However, I do think there are times (and topics) for which sage on the stage is expected. As an example, I often do training and teaching on legal subjects. While discussion is encouraged, I find people are more interested in my perspective as a lawyer than on hearing each other talk. Conversely, when I facilitate programs on crisis management, the opposite is true since sharing ideas and experiences is most valuable.
  • In training the learning needs to be centered on the learner. From understanding who the learners are, and what skills and knowledge they bring with them, to individual practice and feedback in simulated or real on-the-job conditions. In performance-based learning, and just-in-time learning environments today, many learners may even prefer learning without an Instructor, Facilitator or Guru (mentor). If a learner needs to know or do, why do they need a trainer? Do we think that is the only way learning takes place? Maybe the Avatar works here.
  • I believe that you are saying that we need to capable of being both the sage and the guide. As you illustrate, the balance between ego drive and empathy possessed by high successful sales people, is what makes make them successful. Trainers, consultants, and teachers need to balance providing knowledge, being the guide, and wisdom, being the sage in order to succeed on behalf of the student and to fill the need for personal gratification. As with effective sales, the balance is dependent on the situation, as you point out. Reading the situation is key, and those who are able to do so are highly effective. This is what makes all of these professions both an art and a science.
  • Circumstances, situations and conditions do make training important. Call it whatever: The Guru, The Sage or The Knowledge Provider. It is always what the learner learns that is important along with the learn ability that the trainer gets out of the learner. So adopt what is needed given the circumstances on which the training arises. Trainers have massive egos so let’s not talk about that. The skills are far more important today in any field.
  • As a teacher of religion and technology, I would suggest that both are applicable. There is a time for information exchange, and a time for synthesis. The information I share with my students is retained best if I give them an opportunity to use it right away. If the lesson is about selecting a computer to run particular software, the class will complete an exercise matching the capacities of the computer to the specifications of the software. If the lesson is about kindness, I may ask my students what they think the results would be if they performed a kindness to someone they did not know. Then I would have them try that during the day and make note of what happened. There is time for a Sage on the Stage, and a time for a Guide on the Side. It is wisdom is to know when to use each.
  • A simple-looking question is often much more complicated that it appears. “…should we follow a ‘Situational Approach’ and adopt the appropriate ‘avatar’ depending on the situation and the kind of learners?” Yes, within the constraints of the design of the instructional experience. “If so, what are the parameters?” The instructional model, content, and learner characteristics (at least) determine the parameters for choosing between sage or guide or avatar of another kind, and for designing the behavior of the selected “helper.” A constructivist learning experience requires very different (and looser) guidance than a more controlled learning experience, such as synectics. Content or subject matter should determine – at least in part – the type of assistance users would prefer, or that the related community of practice would accept. Novice learners may need more guidance than near-experts.
  • There are a number of factors that can influence whether to adopt a more ‘teacher-centered’ or ‘learner-centered’ approach, one of which is the cultural diversity of the target group. People around the world differ in how they like to work when learning. In some cultures, such as the United Kingdom and the USA the ‘guide on the side’ works well, as people prefer consultative management and facilitated learning approaches. In others, for example Germany and far Eastern countries, people like to respect a teacher, so the ‘sage on the stage’ may be preferable.
  • I think that a mix is appropriate and that the leader, like the instructor, needs to adapt to the situation. I don’t believe that anyone confuses the “guide” approach with the leader or instructor being the protégé’s “friend.” Nevertheless, in each situation, it is critical for the leader to understand the perspective of the other person (empathize). This makes him or her, a more effective communicator and allows the instruction or motivation to be made more relevant to the other individuals. In some situations, one needs to be a sage – explaining the project timeline and milestones to a team or describing a metabolic pathway to a class – but awareness of the needs of the adult learner will make the job easier and improve the chances for success. In the case of the project kickoff meeting, allowing interaction for the team to discuss the project and help to mold the details will better utilize the diverse expertise of the group and will give the participants a better sense of ownership. To present the metabolic pathways in an active learning mode will improve retention and allow for more depth and relevance. In each case, however, if the project is getting out of hand or the classroom discussion is going off on a tangent, the leader-instructor needs to have the agility and stature (or as Colbert might say, “sageiness”) to retake the stage and assert more of the guru role, if necessary.
  • Sage or Guide are the roles! A good trainer is like a good actor who plays these roles based on the requirements. What matters is integrity & proficiency!
  • Although I agree that the “guide on the side” creates a better learning experience, the other side of the coin is that the objectives of the training and the profile of the learner need to be considered as well. One cannot participate in a didactic discussion if there is no knowledge or comprehension of the basic concepts being taught. There is value in learning objectives and when considering Bloom’s Taxonomy, if you are dealing with transfer of information, the learning strategies would support “sage on the stage.”
  • I use a four stage approach to teaching. This is in order to cover the method the student is most comfortable in learning:
    • Stage 1. To discuss the theory and background of what is being taught. It answers the reason why we need to know the material, as well as some concept of what is being taught. I also explain how I will teach. This only works with some students.
    • Stage 2. Demonstrate. Show how it is done, for the visual students.
    • Stage 3. Have them perform it while I coach. (Guide on the Side). Tactile students.
    • Stage 4. They show me. This verifies that they understand and that they are comfortable with the knowledge gained.

Thank you for reading my blog.

RK Prasad


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