What I learnt this week: How to learn something you don’t understand #WILTW

This is the 62nd #WILTW

After a week abroad I have spent a week at home doing, well, not a lot.

A bit of time has been spent perfecting my daughter’s cycling skills.

I’d previously made the observation that learning to cycle depends on a skill-set that is actually difficult to describe. Discussing Tacit Knowledge, that which is usable but hard to express, isn’t really a great theoretical starting point with a 5 year old though. Ultimately given balance isn’t a easy thing to define it just needs to be practiced. Unlike scribbling (and subsequently writing) in which the effect of crayon on paper is obvious, the need for a certain amount of momentum to maintain stability when you are only on two wheels isn’t. This may be a peculiarity of the stubbornness of my daughter whose particular problem this week has been pushing off on her bike. After getting over a period of exasperation that Isla wouldn’t listen to what I was saying (and realising this was my unconsciousness competency) I reverted to an approach of just following her requests. This involved so much help at positioning and stabilising the bike that I thought she would never learn anything.

But she did get better and her competence and confidence increased at a pace she was comfortable with. It demonstrated that not only I am pretty useless doctor when it comes to my own children, I’m a cr*p educator as well.

Teaching Cartoon

The approach of letting the learner learn, especially with new skills, is a particular dilemma in medicine where obviously patient safety must remain a priority. A recently published article discussed the impact of the introduction of time targets (similar to the 4 hour model in the UK) on training in Emergency Departments in Australia. One of the conclusions was that it was reducing ‘trial and error’ learning to more senior role modelling.

In a couple of weeks time a new group of junior doctors will start in our Emergency Department many who have minimal experience of interacting with ill and injured children. Increasing patients numbers but the need to maintain high quality care and deliver a good patient experience means we too will be striking a balance to allow development at a learner’s pace without claustrophobic supervision. This is something no one can afford to be bad at…

What did you learn this week? #WILTW




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