» Listings for March 2011
Posted on 12:08pm Sunday 27th Mar 2011
Recently I was asked to go to an internal tribunal at my local hospital where I was a character witness for one of their staff who had been dismissed for allegedly assaulting one of their patients. When I spoke to my friend and his union representative it was very apparent that no real investigation had taken place into the incident. There had been no post incident debrief, nor had the details of witnesses been secured so they could be seen afterwards. One ‘witness’ had told someone something that was then repeated in the original hearing, but no-one knew who the witness was. The original complainant had completed two distinctly different versions of the incident report form, some three days apart. The questions I was asked by the chair of the hearing and the manner of asking them would give grounds for an appeal just on the basis that they demonstrated a total lack of impartiality, as well as a scant regard for any process of examining a witness. I had not been spoken to by the side who called me, before the chair jumped in with her questions.
All in all it was a bit of a dog’s breakfast and it was very clear to me that there was a lack of training for everyone involved in the case, with the possible exception of the man who was fighting for his job. He investigated everything very thoroughly, but that really was no wonder as his livelihood depended on it.
Investigating complaints when it is not your full time, proper role is not an easy thing to do, but there are some very simple things that can help to avoid the difficulties the local hospital Trust faced through this case. Our basic investigation skills course would make a huge difference to people who are in that situation. It is built around all the skill’s I learnt as a police officer, working with some totally brilliant detectives who had developed their skills over many years.
Posted on 8:31am Friday 25th Mar 2011
Knowledge, Understanding, and Application.
When I first became a Police Officer and went off to training school there were a large number of legal definitions we had learn off by heart. Every Monday morning the Sergeant would test us by making us individually, formally recite then to the class while standing at our desk. I can still recall almost all of them and it was now over 40 years ago that I learnt them. As learning ‘moved forward’ it became apparent that academics felt that learning off by heart was not the way forward, because folk needed to ‘understand’ what they had learnt, not just know it and recite it. How wrong that is.
This week my 8 years old granddaughter has been starting her day with us, because her mummy has been starting work really early. On Monday she asked if I would help her with her maths homework, so being a good granddad I sat up at the table at very early hour to do fractions. As we worked our way down the sheet of questions Emily could work out the answers, she needed someone to encourage, which I was happy to do, but when I asked questions like what is 7 times by 7 she had a very convoluted route to find the answer. 10 times 7 equals 70, 3 times 7 equals 21. 70 minus 21 equals 49. What a difficult route to something that really is simple. It seems she was not taught to recite her tables so ‘I don’t know them grandad!’
I learnt my times tables off by heart and just know that 7 time 7 equal 49. The knowledge is that 7 times 7 equals 49, the very practical application is that if you buy 7 items costing 7 pence each how much change will I get if I give the shopkeeper a one pound coin.
What has all this to do with creating learning? Well I strongly believe that in design work and learning delivery there has to be a place for plain straight forward knowledge where appropriate, because that will provide the foundation to go on a build understanding, comprehension and application of that knowledge. The Police Service went right away from learning legal definitions by heart in favour of just understanding them. I really do not believe that you can understand something you don’t know! In many cases sound knowledge provides that solid foundation on which you can build wonderful understanding and go from there to apply that knowledge to the situation you want to use it in. Once you have solid foundations you can build a small bungalow or a mansion, it is your choice as the designer and as the learner, but if the foundations are shaky the learning that follows will not be as assured as it could be, and will all come tumbling down. Someone once told me that knowledge is power.
There really is a place for learning off by heart!