Coaching, training and teaching

A letter from LS Michaelis published in The Lancet, 1946, and just as true today:

Sir, — At a time when the resources of medical education are being replanned and expanded, it would I think be useful to define these three complementary activities.

Coaching is the assembling of knowledge in preparation for a test of mental assimilation — i.e., the examination. Coaching may follow teaching, but should never precede or coincide with it.

Training is the acquisition of techniques by practical experience: It may coincide with teaching, but should never precede it.

Teaching provides a fundamental introduction, a crtical survey, and a challenge to original thought; it promotes judgement and insight, enthusiasm, and inquiry. It should precede and accompany training, but never degenerate into coaching.

Clever young graduates, with a fund of systematic knowledge, make good coaches; able technicians may make good trainers. But teaching calls for a balanced view of the part and the whole; it demands a broad outlook and a deep insight, with scepticism for the established and an open mind for the new.

When coaching is allowed to predominate in education, the body medical presents itself as a cleanly dissected corpse. When training is given more than its due, the result is a robot. Only when teaching is given its proper scope and precedence does this body medical emerge as a growing living organism.

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