Thursday, 6 December 2007

All a matter of style

There is a well regarded theory in the world of education that people learn in different ways. Indeed there are 3 commonly accepted 'Learning Styles'; These are known as VAK or Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Visual is to do with seeing and reading, Auditory is to do with listening and speaking and Kinesthetic is to do with touching and doing.

Each person will have the ability to learn in every way but will also have a 'preferred' learning style. I can't remember exactly what proportion of an 'average' population prefers each style, however it is my theory that Lifeboat crews, almost by definition, are Kinesthetic learners. They are 'hands on' kind of people; they prefer doing, active learning and moving about. They are most likely to be heard saying things like: How does that grab you? I have a grasp of the basics. It certainly feels right. I can relate to that.

I got thinking about this on the way to work this morning (dull, I know!) Our 1st Aid course does cater for all learning styles but there is a huge emphasis on Kinesthetic learning. Indeed, out of a total of about 20 hours learning, there has only been about 5 hours spent learning in a Visual or Auditory way. The remainder has been Kinesthetic, or doing. And I wonder how much Paul and the other staff at the RNLI Training College have done this as a deliberate pedagogy? In designing a course for school there is always an expectation that you will provide VAK learning opportunities in direct proportion to the proportion of Visual Auditory and Kinesthetic learners you have. So if you have 20% of your students who are Kinesthetic learners, then 20% of the course should be designed to cater for Kinesthetic learners. I have a suspicion though that this has not been a conscious thought process that Paul has gone through, but rather he has just done the obvious thing. I doubt that the research has been done on Lifeboat crews but I'm pretty confident of what the outcome would be.........when was the last time you ever saw a lifeboatman read a set of instructions?!

I suspect that this is why we are getting so much from this course. None of us are getting bored because, unlike previous courses, we are having our unique learning preferences catered for. Consequently we are enjoying ourselves and learning quickly. I believe the boffins call it 'Personalised Learning'.

And of course this is fundamental to what makes us lifeboat crews successful as 1st Aiders. Kinesthetic leaners can be best described as 'Touchy Feely' and that is precisely what is needed to be a good 1st Aider.

If you're interested in finding out what kind of learner you are try this test. Or if you can't be bothered, ask yourself this question.........when something breaks, do you get out the instruction book, call a friend to talk about it or take it apart?


Unknown said...

I think it's a lot simpler than that.

Ultimately, First Aid is a practical subject... you have to recognise the signs and symptoms and then provide a physical treatment.

I could talk a group through CPR until I was blue in the face, but until they actually get down and do it, then all that talk would be a waste of time.

I'm not saying that we don't need theory aspects of First Aid... of course a good underlying knowledge of what the body is doing when it goes into shock, and why it is doing it will help.... but ultimately, as long as you can recognise that "this person doesn't look healthy" and that you should lie them down... then that's got to be a good thing.

First Aid is a practical subject.... just the same as you can't learn to sail a boat from a book, and so people who teach it by powerpointing their group to death and not letting them get "hands-on" are very simply bad trainers. I am very pleased to hear that the RNLI haven't gone down the route of "right, everyone is going to watch this DVD on First Aid, then we'll this once, that once and the other once, and that's the end".

Anonymous said...

Hi John.

Just to clarify, it wasn't a wild stab in the dark!!. Several Trainers at the Lifeboat college have studied learning patterns and crew compositions for masters qualifications.

It was brought to my attention that often the feedback from our previous coastal course was too much "talk and chalk" and not enough "doing". In fact - the worse case reported of this was 19 hours listening and 1 hour doing.

So I completely reinvented the wheel - starting with a simple but effective assessment and then just adding layer upon layer of practical skills. That then became 5 hours listening and 15 doing.

Looking at you all over the last week - being calm and clinically effective in multiple realistic scenarios, not only warms my heart but proves the approach works.

Anonymous said...

Hello, i'm quite interested in your first aid course. It seems you have managed to put quite a lot of very realisetic senarios together and also seems very organaised. How did you do it, did you organise it 'in house' or did you get someone in to do it? Thanks, Mike

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike.

The course was designed in house by myself - using just under 20 years of crew experience plus 17 years as an NHS physiotherapist and 10 years as a paramedic.
It was designed to suit the needs of crews and I have obtained approval from the British Paramedic Association and the Anaesthetic Trauma and Critical Care ATACC Medical Rescue Team.

It hopefully seems to have hit the nail for what crews need.

If you need help with a course MIke = please let me know.

Regards , Paul

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

Well that is quite some expereince! Yeah i'm interested in chatting about this with you more. Would you mind letting me know of your email address by dropping me an email on

Many thanks,


Unknown said...

Perhaps the most famous rescue occurred in 1901. The men had done out to fish in calm weather but a gale blew up. The lifeboat was needed but the crew and most of the launchers were at sea, so in spite of the harsh weather and strength required, the women and old men of the village launched the boat and stood by until the cobles were safely in.

health and social care courses