Flowers for Algernon

Rod Webb
Commercial Director, Glasstap Limited
Glasstap Limited
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I’ve just read Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes. Occasionally, you read a book that you know will remain with you forever, and this is one. For those who don’t know it, and I didn’t, it’s a moving, thought provoking and clever novel written through the eyes of someone with learning disabilities who has the opportunity to be ‘cured’. If you’ve not read it, I urge you to do so. It’ll make you think.

Other novels that have remained with me include Matthew Kneale’s, English Passengers, and, especially, Evelyn Waugh’s, Brideshead Revisited. Then there’s Reaper Man, by Terry Pratchett. It was my first Terry Pratchett novel, and I remember attempting to read it on a train and having to put it away because I couldn’t stop laughing out loud! 

There are a few other novels I could add to this list, but not as many as you might expect, considering the number I’ve read over the years. Most, I’ve read, enjoyed, and then simply forgotten. Sometimes, I’ll see a book on a shelf at home or at the bookshop and think, ‘I know I’ve read it, but I couldn’t tell you one thing about it’. 

A lot of training I’ve attended over the years has been like this too: pleasant enough experiences that I’ve immediately forgotten. But, just as with books, there are also those courses and workshops that have stayed with me.

What makes some books, and some experiences remain with us forever, whilst others slip through our minds like syrup from an oiled spoon? (Top kitchen tip slipped in there for free.) The answer is emotional attachment. When we’re engaged with a story, when it involves us emotionally, we are much more likely to remember it. 

In short, if we want people to be inspired by the learning opportunities we give them, and make the changes we desire, we need to engage them in the learning at an emotional level.

How do you get people emotionally involved in your training? All emotions act as anchors that memories adhere to, but I’d strongly recommend focusing on the positive ones. Apart from anything else, training that frightens, humiliates or exposes painful memories for your learners is unlikely to leave them wanting more!

So, focusing on engaging people’s positive emotions, ask yourself:

Can I make the learning experience fun, intriguing and exciting? 
Can I create experiences that my learners will get passionate and enthusiastic about? 
Can I encourage them to reflect on the learning experiences I give them, extract the learning, and then ‘run with their ideas’? 
Can I create learning that leaves my participants feeling motivated, determined and brimming with energy?

Want to have a go? Here are a few of the modules that I love using because of the way they really engage and excite learners:

Engaging learners can make for a boisterous training room, rather than an oasis of calm for the trainer. But that can only be a good thing, and the rewards, both in the classroom, and more importantly afterwards, are immense.

I love getting your feedback, whether you agree with me or not. So, please do add a comment below, or email me at [email protected]

About Rod Webb

Rod Webb

Rod is co-founder and Commercial Director at Glasstap® (, the company behind  Trainers' Library® ( and Managers' Library (

Rod has overall responsibility for the Glasstap brand and the day to day operations of the business.

Through its innovative Trainers' Library® service, Glasstap® provides trainers with easy access to its unique range of innovative, experiential learning materials, including detailed trainer's notes, handouts, participant briefs etc. The service is used by professional trainers in over 50 countries.

The recently launched Managers' LIbrary aims to help line managers become better at fulfilling their part in the leraning and development cycle providing loads of short training activities that can be used in team meetings and lots of self-development tools for the managers themselves.

Rod is the author of an extensive catalogue of experiental training materials, available through Trainers' Library®, which includes teambuilding games like Murder at Glasstap Grange and Jack Fruggle's Treasure. He now works with a team of authors who continue to develop new material for Trainers' Library and Managers' Library.

In his spare time, Rod enjoys creative writing, reading, walking, cycling and spending time with his horses and dogs. He's currently creating a new board game.


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