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Concept 8. Three Domains of Educational Goals

A large number of things go into making a person a leader. Those who are interested studying these factors, can benefit by examining the three domains of educational training goals. For a number of years educators have grouped training goals under three domains or headings. These three can be represented most simply by: head, hands, and heart; or knowing, doing, and being. Thinking about these three areas and what methods of training are most effective with each domain can be very helpful to those who are designing training programs.

1. Head or Knowing

This area is often described by educators as the "cognitive domain." It consists of all the facts and ideas that a leader should know, of which there are many. Some are common to all leaders in a given culture while others are specific to a certain leadership context. Many of these facts and ideas have been learned by the leader as the person grew up—some in school, some from reading, and some from observations of life. There is a certain body of special knowledge that a Christian leader must have if he or she is to be an effective leader. This includes:

- the Bible and its teachings

- sound doctrine

- a brief overview of church history

- the background of the leader's church

- how to organize and operate a church

and much more!

Of the three approaches to education discussed earlier, formal education is the most effective way to gain knowledge. It is in this areas that schooling excels. A good teacher who is very knowledgeable about an area can share what he or she knows with a large group of learners at one time. Formal education is an efficient way of passing knowledge onto a number of people all at the same time. Such knowledge can also be gained through reading a good book on the subject to be learned in which case the author serves as the teacher.

2. Hands or Doing

This area is sometimes called the "psycho-motor domain" because it has to do with the mind's control of the body. This is a broad area which includes:

- all physical activity

- public speaking

- preaching

- counseling

- leading meetings

- witnessing

and much more!

Activities in this domain are best learned by observation and practice. Leaders get better at most activities in this domain as they gain experience over time. Of the three approaches to learning, leaders learn best in this domain through informal and nonformal approaches. Formal education is the least effective way to teach someone in this domain. In most cases, learning skills in this domain begins with observation of someone who is already a master at it. After repeated observations, the learner tries to do it. It is best if these first attempts are carried out under the supervision of an experienced teacher, but sometimes no such teacher is available. After repeated attempts, the learner eventually will master the skill.

Many skills depend upon a certain amount of knowledge which, however, can be learned in a classroom. Learning how to drive a car is an example of this. A person can learn a lot about cars and how they operate from attending a class, but they cannot say they know how to drive until they have actually spent a lot of time behind the wheel of one. In a similar way, a leader can take a class on how to preach or counsel, but that is not the same thing as actually doing it.

3. Heart or Being

This areas is sometimes called the "affective domain." It is the source of what a person does, and many of the skills mentioned in the previous domain flow out of this one. It covers such matters as a leader's character, their spiritual development, and their personality. Again, leaders learn best in this domain through informal and nonformal means. They may learn what good behaviour is in a formal setting, but a person may be either unable to actually behave in the proper way or they may not see in themselves what others around them see. In other words, a learner may not recognize that they have a problem in a certain area unless it is pointed out to them.

In summary, educational goals in the head or knowing domain can be effectively addressed by formal educational programs, but educational goals in the other two domains are better addressed by informal and non-formal means. A major problem with most leadership training programs is that they tend to focus on formal methods and thus do a poor job in the two domains that are best addressed by informal and non-formal methods.


Clinton, J. Robert. Leadership Training Models. Altadena, CA: Barnabas Publishers, 1984.